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Orland Park teacher killed, another injured in hit-and-run after leaving Christmas party

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ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Two Catholic school teachers were struck by a vehicle, one fatally, in a hit-and-run near Orland Square Mall.

The incident happened around 8 p.m. Wednesday near the Square Celt restaurant, at 39 Orland Square Drive.

The two women had attended the St. Michael School's Christmas party at the restaurant, and were walking to their cars when they were struck by a vehicle.

St. Michael School in Orland Park identified the women as 61-year-old Margaret "Rone" Leja, a technology teacher at the school and 54-year-old Elizabeth Kosteck, a third grade teacher.

The women were transported to Silver Cross Hospital. Leja was pronounced dead at the hospital, and Kosteck was treated and released.

"We have significant leads already," Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy said. "We recommend the (driver) turn himself in as soon as possible. Don't wait until we find you because we will."

Asst. Principal Maureen Morrissey said he was shocked at the incident, and said he was with them only 10 minutes prior to the hit-and-run.

"(The victims) left together," Principal Paul Smith said. "We're not sure how long it was until an employee from a restaurant found them."

Read the full statement from St. Michael School below:

"It is with great sadness and shock that I send this message. This evening after our Parish Christmas party Mrs. Kosteck and Ms. Leja were walking to their cars and were struck by a vehicle. They were taken to the hospital and while Mrs. Kosteck sustained injuries, Ms. Leja passed away. The faculty and parish priests are currently at Silver Cross hospital gathered in prayer for our colleagues.

In light of this event, we will have a 9 am start tomorrow, Thursday. Because of this, there will be no morning bus service. Our faculty is grieving the loss of their dear friend and colleague and will be gathering privately before school opens.

Upon the children's arrival, we will have a prayer service led by Fr, Frank.

We ask for your prayers in this time of sorrow. We will continue to keep you updated throughout the day."

An active investigation is underway.

A description of the hit-and-run driver has not been provided by authorities. But in a statement, Orland Park police said, “If you are the driver of that vehicle, we WILL find you.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Orland Park Police at 708-349-4111 or crimetips@orlandpark.org.

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