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Woodstock officer seriously hurt in 1/19 crash

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

Woodstock officer seriously hurt in 1/19 crash

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
March 9, 2011

Woodstock Police Car Wrecked

On January 19 there was a three-car crash at Lake Avenue and Route 47 in Woodstock, when a police car, using lights and siren, tangled with a southbound vehicle crossing Lake Avenue on a green light. Tara Madigan, of Woodstock, was cited for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Ofr. Mitch Falat, who was not named in newspaper articles about the crash, must have been seriously injured. He was transported to Centegra Hospital-Woodstock, as were several occupants of the other vehicles.

The crash was investigated by McHenry County Sheriff's Department Deputy #2002 (why don't names appear in reports?!!!), and he wrote an extraordinarily long commentary about Falat's driving maneuvers and included plenty of fluff in the report, as if the number of words used would exonerate a driver. (Example: "The driver of unit two (Ofc. Falat) also stated he always stops at intersections when driving with his lights and sirens (sic) on."

Why do I say that he must have been seriously injured? Because he has already filed a legal action against Ms. Madigan for the injuries he suffered in the crash.

His Complaint at Law, filed by Steven Greeley of Franks, Gerkin & McKenna, P.C. includes the following. Keep in mind, as you read this, that the crash was on the afternoon of January 19, and the legal action was filed in court on February 4.

"(Falat) suffered and sustained grave and severe, internal and external, temporary and permanent injuries to his head, face, neck and body resulting in contusions, bruises, strains and sprains, causing him to become sick, sore, lame and disabled, with great pain and suffering."

"(Falat) was obligated to expend and will continue to expend and become liable for large sums oif money for medical and hospital expenses in and about endeavoring to be cured for all of these injuries."

"That (Falat) was prevented from pursuing his usual occupation and lost large sums of money that he would otherwise have earned."

Ofc. Falat is suing for between $10,000 and $50,000, plus costs.

Is Falat wrapped in bandages from head to toe? Has he been off work since January 19? Did the City forget to pay the premium for workers' compensation insurance for him? Did the City neglect to dot all the i's and cross all the t's on his employment deal, so that he was really not even an employee of the City for health insurance purposes? (Normally, health insurance doesn't pay for on-the-job injuries; workers' comp pays for those.) Doesn't the City pay an officer's salary to him, when he is injured on-duty?

I had no idea that we in Woodstock treated our officers so shabbily. Why aren't they on strike? I knew they had been without a contract for two years, but did the new one already expire? Or wasn't there a new one?

How did Falat get injured so badly and still escape mention of such a fact in the Northwest Herald? Did he have his seatbelt on? Had he secured all the loose items on the front seat of the patrol car, so they wouldn't fly around inside the driving compartment and cause injury, in the event of a wreck?

The patrol car is still sitting in the parking lot at the Woodstock Police Department. I wonder why it hasn't been repaired by now and put back in service.

Is the wording in this Complaint at Law unique to Falat's case?

If a judge heard this case right now, this week, do you think he'd be scratching his head and asking, "How did such grave and severe injuries happen in what looks like a fairly minor crash?" And "How much were his real, out-of-pocket expense for medical care and lost wages?"

Best wishes to Ofc. Falat for a speedy, full and painfree recovery. Sure hope you are back at work soon.

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