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More than 2 months after sisters were killed in crash with Cook County sheriff's officer, family still waits for answers
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 Chicago Tribune by By Matthew Walberg
Relatives of two sisters killed in a crash with a squad car driven by a Cook County sheriff’s police officer in Niles have expressed frustration that investigators have not yet released any conclusive information about what caused the fatal collision.
“Of course we want to know what happened, and we want to know what caused the accident, how fast the police officer was going,” said a relative, who did not wish to be named. “They say they have the information, but it hasn’t been released yet.”
An investigation of the crash has been conducted bythe North Regional Major Crimes Task Force’s Major Crash Assistant Team since September, and a spokesman for the Niles Police Department said the task force’s report was expected to be turned over to the department this week. As of Wednesday afternoon, the report had not yet been turned over to the department, the spokesman said.
“I don’t know what to expect,” the relative said. “I’ve never been in a situation like this. I don’t know how long it takes.”
Shortly before 6 a.m. on Sept. 6, Helena Lukasik and her sister, Anna Moskal, were heading south on Harlem Avenue on their way home from work when they were struck by a squad car heading east on Dempster Street.
Moskal, 69, and Lukasik, 64, were later pronounced dead at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and the officer — identified in police reports as Thomas Nortman — was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released the following day.
The women had worked the night shift for a cleaning company at Evanston Hospital, according to their family. One of the women had retired, but had gone back to work because her sister wanted them to retire together.
Nortman was on his way to work but considered to be on-duty when the crash occurred, according to the sheriff’s office. He was de-deputized following the crash and remains on administrative duty.
He allegedly told investigators at the scene that “he was unsure what lane he was traveling in at the time of the accident” and that “he had a solid green signal for (eastbound) Dempster when he entered the intersection and only knew that the other vehicle came from (southbound) Harlem,” according to records obtained from the Niles Police Department. The records stated that officers took blood and urine samples from Nortman as part of the investigation.
Last month, the families of the dead women filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Nortman and the Cook County sheriff’s office.
An attempt to reach Nortman was unsuccessful.
A spokeswoman for the the sheriff’s office said in an email that it was aware of the lawsuit and is “awaiting the results of the ongoing investigation into the traffic crash that resulted in this tragic loss of life.”