Posted On: December 30, 2008

Chicago Loop Car Accident Injures Two Children

Two children were injured last Sunday morning in a two-car accident in the Chicago loop just outside the Chicago Art Institute. The accident occurred at Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard around 11:20 a.m. according to the Chicago Central District Police Department. Police News Affair Officer John Mirabelli reports that the two-vehicle collision involved an SUV and an undisclosed vehicle. While the SUV driver did not suffer any injuries, two children passengers were taken to Children’s Memorial Hospital. The children were listed in critical condition according to Fire Media Affairs Assistant Director Eve Rodriguez. The driver of the SUV did not suffer any injuries in the crash. Information regarding the other vehicle involved in the crash has not been made available. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for children and adolescents ages 1 to 21 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Proper use of child safety seats can play a significant role in reducing juvenile car accident injuries. Illinois parents should be aware of both recommended booster seat designs and child seating positions. For more information regarding child vehicular safety refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Posted On: December 26, 2008

Illinois State Appellate Court: DuPage Strip Club Must Remain as Co-Defendant in Wrongful Death Case

A DuPage County strip club has lost its bid to be excluded from a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from a deadly drunk driving accident. The State Appellate Court ruled last Wednesday that the owners of the West Chicago area Diamond’s Strip Club must remain as co-defendants in a wrongful death suit filed against John Homatas. Homatas, a 26 year-old Wayne resident, is currently serving a 12-year sentence following a jury trial in which he was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving. Homatas plead not guilty to those crimes in June 2007 following a head-on collision that killed two adults and one unborn child. The car accident occurred on January 4, 2006, on Illinois Highway 25 between Kenyon Rd. and U.S. Highway 20. After leaving the club, Homatas steered his northbound Jeep across the center line and struck a Chevy Tahoe driven by 27 year-old April Simmons of Yorkville, IL, killing her and her unborn child. John Chiarello, the passenger in Homatas’s car, was also killed in the collision.

The owners of Diamonds claimed that they had no part in the tragic DUI car accident because the strip club does not serve alcohol. The Appellate Court rejected this contention finding that the strip club owed a duty to the deceased plaintiffs when it ejected Homatas from the club and placed him in his vehicle knowing he was intoxicated. While the club does not serve alcohol, it does allow patrons to bring alcoholic beverages onto the premises for personal consumption. The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Diamonds employees started Homatas’s car and watched him drive away after ejecting him from the bar for vomiting in the bathroom. Police reports indicate that Homatas had alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine in his system at the time of the accident. Diamonds owner Ari Pomerantz has vowed to continue to fight the suit.

Posted On: December 23, 2008

Chicago Expressway Accident Leaves Two Seriously Injured

Two people were seriously injured in a four-vehicle car accident on Chicago’s Kennedy Expressway last Sunday around 9:00 a.m. The crash occurred on the outbound Kennedy Expressway/I-90 near the Addison Street exit. The victims suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries according to Illinois State Police. The crash was eventually moved to the side of the Kennedy around 10:10 a.m. causing delays on the major Chicago roadway.

The State Police are still investigating the crash which may have been weather related. Unconfirmed dispatch reports indicate the Chicago Fire Department initiated an EMS Plan 1 response automatically dispatching five ambulances to the scene. The scene of the accident was completely secured by 9:45 a.m. Emergency crews responded to several similar weather related crashes last Sunday according to the State Police.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recommends that drivers take extra precautions in preparing for winter travel. First off, the agency urges Illinois drivers to install winter tires designed to handle high water, ice, and snow driving. IDOT also recommends that drivers carry a winter emergency kit that includes a flashlight, road flares, blankets, hand-warmers, food, and water. When coupled with defensive driving, proper weather-related driving preparation can help prevent Illinois car accidents this winter.

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Posted On: December 18, 2008

Worth, IL, Car Accident Kills Two Teens, Injures Four More

A deadly car accident left two teens dead and four more injured in South Suburban Worth, IL, on Monday night. The crash occurred on the 6600 block of West 107th Street around 9:30 p.m. According to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, the accident killed the driver, 18 year-old Arthur Cepulcha of 8326 Nashville Ave. in Burbank, IL, and 18 year-old Adam Skora of 5554 W. 85th in Burbank, IL. Four other teen passengers suffered critical injuries in the crash. The injured teen passengers were taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL, and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL. All six of the teens had to be extricated from the severely damaged white four-door vehicle. The extrication took about forty minutes.

Accident investigations have been undertaken by both the Worth Police Department and the Chicago Ridge Police Department. Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the deadly automobile accident however published reports speculate that icy roads may have been the culprit. The white four-door car was found wrapped around a tree on its driver side. Regarding the damage, Worth Fire Chief Gary Swiercz reported, “There was not much of a car left.” It is unclear whether alcohol or excessive speed may have contributed to the accident. The accident serves as a sobering reminder of the potentially deadly effect of winter weather on Chicago roadways.

Posted On: December 16, 2008

Hoffman Estates, IL, Woman Charged with DUI Following Deadly Chicago Car Accident

Stephanie Buzek, a 27 year-old resident of Hoffman Estates, faces criminal charges following a fatal drunk driving accident on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The accident occurred at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Devon Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, December 14th. Buzek was allegedly speeding north on Milwaukee when her vehicle collided with the rear end of a stopped car. The victim, 35 year-old Sergio Correa of 3141 N. Hamlin Ave. in Chicago, had stopped for a red light at the intersection. The collision broke Correa’s neck despite the fact that he was wearing his seatbelt. Advocate Lutheran General Hospital pronounced Correa dead at 2:57 a.m. on Sunday according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Bond was set at $100,000 on Monday for Buzek, who remains hospitalized following the car accident. According to police News Affairs Officer John Henry, Buzek has been charged with driving under the influence, aggravated driving under the influence, operating a motor vehicle without insurance, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and negligent driving. The Cook County State’s Attorney Office alleges that Buzek and a friend had dinner and at least three beers on the night of the accident. Buzek remains hospitalized at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, having suffered a broken leg as a result of the collision. Her injuries are not believed to be serious. Buzek’s preliminary hearing for the criminal charges is scheduled for December 30th.

Posted On: December 11, 2008

Illinois Truck-Bus Collision Sends at least 36 to Hospital

A collision between a chartered bus full of Peoria area high school students and a tractor-trailer sent at least 36 people to local hospitals late last Wednesday night. The truck accident occurred on Interstate 39 in North Central Illinois about 40 miles north of Bloomington near the town of Losant. The school bus, which was carrying fifty-six students from Dunlap High School, was on its way back from an annual trip to Chicago when the accident occurred. According to reports, the bus was southbound on Interstate 39 when a semi truck jack-knifed in front of the bus. Icy road conditions were prevalent however Illinois State Police spokeswoman Paris Ervin refused to speculate on a cause.

According to the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Office ten ambulances responded to the accident transporting victims to three area hospitals. Thirteen victims were taken to St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley, IL, while another twenty-three were treated by llinois Valley Hospital in Peru, IL. An undisclosed number of injured were also taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator, IL. Hospital personnel have not reported any serious injuries as a result of the accident. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured.

Posted On: December 9, 2008

Former Chicago Jesuit Priest Faces Third Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

Former priest and Loyola University Chicago professor John Powell has been accused of sexual abuse in connection with a religious retreat held in the late sixties. The November lawsuit represents the third sexual abuse allegation levied against Powell since 2003. The suit also names the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as a defendant claiming that the organization was aware of several sexual abuse allegations against Powell and did nothing. In addition to his work as a professor and priest, Powell is also a best-selling religious author having penned publications such as “Fully Human” and “Fully Alive”.

The recent civil lawsuit, filed by a Jane Doe plaintiff, alleges abuse by Powell during a 1967 religious retreat held in West Palm Beach Florida. The plaintiff claims that Powell held ‘private counseling sessions’ over the course of the retreat during which he forced the plaintiff to kiss him and forced the plaintiff to undress. The lawsuit alleged negligence and fraud against the Jesuits claiming that the abuse suffered by the Jane Doe victim could have been prevented had the Jesuits acted on prior allegations against Powell.

The allegations follow a 2006 lawsuit alleging that Powell sexually abused four other girls during similar counseling sessions. The 2006 lawsuit, which is still pending, claims that both Loyola administrators and Jesuit leaders actively ignored reports regarding Powell’s inappropriate conduct. Reacting to the recent lawsuits, Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) cited the Jesuits as the worst in the country in terms of concealing abuse. Powell has never been criminally charged in relation to the civil sexual abuse allegations and is currently in poor health requiring 24-hour care.

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Posted On: December 4, 2008

DeKalb, IL, Car Accident Kills Two Chicago Women: Injures Two Others

Two Chicago women were killed and two more were injured in a motor vehicle accident Monday afternoon when their 2004 Toyota Camry collided with an International semi tractor-trailer. The car accident occurred at 2:20 p.m. on Peace Road just north of Fairway Drive in DeKalb. An investigation by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office determined that the northbound semi crashed into the southbound Camry when the passenger vehicle lost control on a snow-covered road. The Camry began to slide sideways and crossed the center line forcing the semi driver to serve right. Unfortunately, the semi was unable to avoid a collision. Two of the passengers, Mary Heidkamp of Edgewater, and Sarah Conway of Edgewater, were killed in the collision. The two injured women, Joanne Steenveld of Skokie, and Kathleen O’Toole of Edgewater, remained hospitalized as of Tuesday. Anthony Medical Center officials have listed Steenvold in serious condition and O’Toole in critical condition. The driver of the semi was not injured.

The motor vehicle tragedy serves as a reminder that Chicago area drivers need to take extra care as winter weather begins. Mayor Daley echoed this sentiment last Monday urging drivers to slow down during winter weather events. The Mayor is forced to do more with less this winter season and he asks motorists to help by slowing down and yielding to plows. Daley revealed that last Monday’s snow, which brought only 2 ½ inches of snow to the north side of Chicago, cost taxpayers about $490,000. Heeding the Mayor’s advice this winter can help Chicagoans save both money and lives.

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