Two Niles police officers killed after suspected drunk driver crashes into motorcycle group

Chicago News

NILES, Ill. — Two men who served on the Niles police force were among three people killed when a suspected drunk driver swerved into a group of motorcyclists on a highway in south central Texas Saturday morning.

The Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, which raises money for fallen and injured police officers and works to assist their families, was holding its annual meeting in Texas over the weekend.

A number of club members in town for a meeting left their camping site in Bandera, TX Saturday morning for a scenic ride through the winding hills nearby, led by Joseph Paglia on the first motorcycle. 

After the group got back on the road following a lunch stop in Kerrville outside San Antonio, the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office said a suspected drunk driver crossed over the center line and plowed into them, injuring nine people and killing three.

David Weed, who serves as the motorcycle club’s public information officer, said he’s “not so much angry as I am kind of numb.”

“They were struck and killed by the type of person they have spent their lives protecting the people in their communities from,” Weed said.

Three people were killed in the crash, including Paglia, who was a Niles cop and the president of the group’s Chicago chapter, Michael White, a retired Army veteran and a Niles officer, and Jerry Harbour from Houston, and a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

The Niles Police Department released a statement saying they are in mourning Sunday after losing two of their own in the motorcycle accident. Niles PD Sergeant Joseph Lazo was also among those injured.

“They truly were the best guys you’d ever want to meet. They’d give you the shirt off their back, their umbrella if it was raining, you name it they would help you.” Weed said.

Texas authorities arrested 28-year-old Ivan Robles Navejas on suspicion of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault.

The Thin Blue Line motorcycle group is raising money for the victims’ families, in honor of the memory of three men who were dedicated to the idea of serving others.

“That’s how you make change, is to change everybody around you and leave the world a better place than when you got here,” Weed said.

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