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That June 8th crash? (2 deputies')

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Emergency Services Vehicles

That June 8th crash? (2 deputies')

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
June 27, 2011

If you don't want to know what happened in the June 8th crash near Wonder Lake involving two on-duty deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, be sure to read the Crash Report. Yes, that's right. Only if you don't want to know what happened... If you DO want to know what happened, you are going to have to get the information somewhere else.

The driver of Unit 1 (usually the at-fault driver) was Deputy Jon Heideman. Unit 2's driver was Deputy Nicole Laskowski. Here's what the report said:

"Driver, Unit 1, stated that he had been travelling N/B E. Wonder Lake Road, south of Chipawa (sic) Drive, behind Driver, Unit 2, when he thought Driver, Unit 2, was pulling to the east shoulder of E. Wonder Lake Road at Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 1, explained that he drove towards the center of the roadway to pass and a collision occurred.

"Driver, Unit 2, stated that she was travelling N/B E. Wonder Lake Road by Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 2, stated that she was attempting to make a left turn onto Chipawa Drive. Driver, Unit 2, said that she was halfway making her turn when she was struck by Driver, Unit 1.

"Both units were towed by DeCraene's Service to the sheriff's garage lot. Accident location is E. Wonder Lake Road at Chipawa Drive, but GPS location did not plot location correctly."

Who wrote the report? Deputy #1579. According to a clerk at the Records Department, that's Sgt. Campos-Cruz.

Man alive.... where to start???

First of all, no wonder that the GPS location wouldn't plot. It's not Chipawa. It's Chippewa!

If any rookie deputy had written that report, his supervisor would have torn it up right in front of him and told him to go, sit in the corner, and do it over. OK, I know; reports are prepared electronically. Kind of hard to tear up and start over.

The phrase "when a collision occurred" is used when a driver wants to avoid admitting that he caused the crash. If the crash was your fault, you never want to say so. Keep it general. Don't admit fault.

Only in a report involving two deputies and written by a supervisor would you find such a load of B.S. This was a classic case where you call the Illinois State Police to investigate; yet Sgt. Campos-Cruz investigated the crash and wrote the report. At least, his name is on it. Why didn't he call the Illinois State Police?

One of the drivers was at fault. Can you tell which one? Which driver should have been ticketed? Was either driver ticketed? No!

Would a non-law-enforcement driver have been ticketed? Absolutely!

Notice what's missing from the report. Speeds of both vehicles as they approached Chippewa Drive. Driving pattern as they drove north on E. Wonder Lake Road. Were they "playing"? Was Driver-Unit 1 tailgating Unit 2? Did the driver of Unit 2 signal her intention to turn left? What did Driver Unit 2 say about her approach to her left turn? Did she pull to the right, as if to let Unit 1 pass? Did she slow sharply before turning left? What was the angle of the vehicles at the point-of-impact, rather than where the vehicles came to rest?

What about the traffic law prohibiting passing through an intersection? Driver-Unit 1 certainly violated that law.

How did Heideman's car "strike" Laskowski's car, as she says? The report says the damage to Laskowski's car was across the front, with the center of the vehicle being the point of first contact. That's impossible, unless she was at a right angle to Heideman's car. The fact that her car hit his car does not necessary make her at fault.

No wonder there is an internal investigation, but I wonder what it's really about. And how much damage is "More than $1,500"?

There is no reason to pick on deputies and insist that they be ticketed if they cause a crash, just because they are deputies. But they should not be excused from ticketing, just because they are deputies. And that's what happened here.

Contributory causes of the crash were 1) improper overtaking/passing (that would be Heideman) and 2) "failure to yield right-of-way". Now who would that be? The report fails to address or explain this.

When a deputy causes a crash, then fairness demands that a ticket be issued.

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