Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and governmental truck

Friday, July 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Gregory Pratt

Amid video fallout, Cook County Forest Preserve District reveals fatal crash involving worker and government truck

Gregory PrattChicago Tribune

A seasonal Forest Preserve District of Cook County worker allegedly drove a government vehicle while under the influence of drugs and killed a man, an internal memo says.

The incident happened in Elk Grove Village on Arlington Heights Road on June 30, according to a letter sent to Cook County commissioners Tuesday evening.

ADVERTISING

The crash comes to light amid continuing fallout from a viral video showing a man berating a woman for wearing a Puerto Rico shirt last month — and a nearby forest preserve officer seemingly ignoring her calls for help.

The worker involved in the crash, 20-year old Caleb Rallings, was in a Ford F350 Crew dump truck driving four individuals carrying out community service work through the Cook County court system, the letter sent to county commissioners said. The vehicle Rallings was driving crashed into five vehicles traveling in the opposite direction, the letter said.

Giuseppe Gazzano, 44, of Bloomingdale, was killed in the crash, the letter said. Rallings “was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence of drug involving a death,” it said.

Rallings was a seasonal employee in his second year, officials said. He was terminated from the Forest Preserve District on July 5, the letter said. All five people in the county truck were sent to local hospitals, the letter said.

The Forest Preserve District hasn’t had previous issues with Rallings, according to the letter to commissioners.

“The Forest Preserves has strict policies regarding safe driving, and we follow strict training procedures to onboard new and returning employees,” a Forest Preserve District statement said. “We took swift action to terminate the employee, and continue to grieve for the family’s loss.”

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said Wednesday he should have been notified sooner.

“It troubles me that somebody could be high and driving a county vehicle,” Boykin said. “It troubles me that this happened June 30 and they should’ve let us know before now, I would think.”

A longtime friend of Gazzano, Paul Spaletto, said Gazzano worked in a grocery store and was on his way home from a shift when the crash occurred. Spaletto described his friend as good-natured yet diligent; when Gazzano’s father died a few years ago, Gazzano, who went by “Joe,” took the lead in caring for his mother and other family members.

“I view that as a real stand-up thing,” Spaletto said. “I don’t know how many people would have changed their whole lives and devoted so much time to taking care of family.”

Meanwhile, the officer in the viral video has been placed on desk duty as an internal investigation progresses, a local congressman called for a federal probe into the matter and the video prompted multiple calls for the police officer to resign or be fired. Even the governor of Puerto Rico tweeted about it as views of the video approached the 2 million mark.

The June 14 incident at Caldwell Woods on Chicago's Far Northwest Side came to light Monday and also prompted an apology from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who later said she expressed her regrets in a phone call to Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello.

In the video, a man — later identified in police reports as Timothy G. Trybus, 62 — demands to know why the woman was wearing a shirt displaying the Puerto Rican flag. He asks her whether she is an American citizen, even though Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory and its residents are U.S. citizens.

“You should not be wearing that in the United States of America,” Trybus tells her.

Forest Preserve District police Chief Kelvin Pope said the officer, whom he identified as Patrick Connor, “should've stepped in, and he should've done something. I think that's the reason we're here today, because he did not.”

Chicago Tribune’s John Keilman and freelance reporter George Houde contributed.

gpratt@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @royalpratt



Recent Headlines

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP