Escuela de Rancho lost a member in a fatal wrong-way crash

Escuela de Rancho lost a member in a fatal wrong-way crash

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After a fatal auto accident left band member Juan Carlos Salazar dead, local band Escuela de Rancho continues to move forward with an immense show of support from fellow music colleagues, fans and friends.

Chicago band Escuela de Rancho continues to pick up the pieces of the aftermath created by a wrong-way driver who struck their van killing bandmate Juan Carlos Salazar, 29, on the morning of Jan. 11. While mourning the loss of their beloved friend, they’re also dealing with the pain of having two other band members still in the hospital. In a show of solidarity, the local music community has come together and is hosting a tribute benefit concert honoring Salazar and the band. The event takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 23, at Olympic Theatre located at 6134 W. Cermak Road.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions these past few days,” says Roberto Marin, founder of the band. “It’s been really tough, you know? We were always together and he [Salazar] was there with us from the very beginning. We’re family and ‘Primo’ [as they affectionately refer to Salazar] passing away is just something so hard for us to get through. We’re just taking it day by day.”

Marin explains that the five member band, which also includes Omar Marrufo, Juan Saucedo and Gessiel Gutierrez, along with Salazar and their engineer, were on their way back from a performance when the fatal accident occurred in Forest Park on I-290 at the Des Plaines Avenue exit. Charges have now been filed against driver Matthew M. Bougher, 21, for aggravated DUI on four counts. He was driving the wrong way when he hit the band’s van head-on.

The accident occurred on the verge of the band’s anniversary as well as the release of a new album. Founded by Marin, Escuela de Rancho formed in 2010 and found relatively quick success. “The type of music we play is part of my culture. I was born in Chicago but my family and the bandmate’s family are all from Durango, so we grew up listening to this type of music,” explains Marin. Their talent and charisma translated into a large and loyal fan base that has been showing the band much needed support in their time of need.

“We’ve always been able to get along with a lot of people,” says Marin when asked about their quick rise in the regional Mexican music community. “I think people like us because we’re a hard-working band and we’ve always been humble. We reach out to our fans too. We always pay attention to them and I think that’s what has led to having such a good following.”

The band has recorded two albums since their formation: “En El Recreo” and “Ley De La Vida.” Their first single, “Hasta Las Chanclas,” became a huge hit locally. “Before this happened, we had planned to release a new album in the next couple of months and we had just worked on a video. We haven’t really discussed our plans moving forward because we’ve been running around getting stuff together, visiting our friends still in the hospital and dealing with all of this. But I seriously think we owe it to Juan Carlos to keep going. He came to the states to follow this dream and I think at this point we need to work on ourselves and come back strong. We owe it to him!” he explains.

Escuela de Rancho is grateful for all of those who have reached out with condolences and offering assistance. Their FundMe page is near the $10,000 mark. They also express extreme appreciation for the support of all the musicians who are coming together for the benefit concert at Olympic Theatre. Performers include El Yaki, Banda Arrazadora, Band Tierra Nueva, Grupo Insigne and many more.

Marin says he only suffered a few injuries but their lead singer, Marrufo, remains hospitalized. One of Marrufo’s legs was broken in three parts which led to three operations and their engineer has undergone two operations with one pending. “Thank God most of us are alive and trying to be there for each other,” says Marin.

“And, this is just so unfortunate but at the same time we can use this to get people to understand the consequences of alcohol being involved while driving. That young driver was so irresponsible! We need our fellow colleagues and followers to know the seriousness of this issue. We all need to know that it’s not okay to drive under the influence. Yes, you can party and have a good time but be responsible for your actions,” he emphasizes.

Honor A Quien Honor Merece Concert
Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 – 7:00 p.m. – 15+
Olympic Theater
6134 W. Cermak Road
Cicero, IL 60804

Donations can also be made online via

This post is also available in: Spanish