CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill.— The village manager of Oak Lawn allegedly struck a pedestrian Thursday night and left the scene, according to police.
Around 8:30 p.m., police were dispatched to the 10100 block of South Harlem Avenue on the report of a pedestrian in an auto crash.
Chicago Ridge police said the village manager of Oak Lawn, Larry Deetjen, allegedly left the scene of the crash. He was driving a village-issued car.
Mark Berkshire, 48, from Worth, was struck and sent to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition.
A witness said Berkshire left the Walmart across the street and was carrying shopping bags when he was struck.
Maggie Demars, Berkshire’s girlfriend, was with him just moments before the crash. She said they were heading to the Dollar Store and he started walking by himself because she went to use the restroom.
“He was like, ‘I’ll meet you over there,’ and that was it,” she said.
Several people witnessed the crash and saw the driver take off.
“I heard a loud thump and then a heard a guy yelling ‘stop stop,’” Keisha Call, a witness, said. “He landed like right in the drive way. They were yelling ‘call 911, call 911,’ so that’s what I did.”
Deetjen was arrested with his vehicle in the 5100 block of West 96th Street. Charges are pending. He was reportedly cooperating with the investigation.
Chicago Ridge police said Deetjen was distracted to his left and heard a thump, but continued to drive. Deetjen told police he didn’t realize he hit something.
Police said he passed a breathalyzer but a blood test is still pending. Deetjan was driving a 2000 Ford 4-door sedan with a municipal license plate.
Deetjen has been Oak Lawn’s village manager since 2007 and has over 30 years experience in local government; serving the communities of Arlington, Massachusetts, Grand Haven, Michigan and Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Police are still looking for more witnesses as they continue their investigation.
Demars said Berkshire’s daughter and other family members are gathered around him at the hospital, hoping he can pull through.
“You know how hard it is? His whole side is messed up, you know? That’s brain. He could have been dead. He’s still fighting, you know? But it’s bad. It’s bad.”
According to an Oak Lawn Patch article, Deetjen was involved in a crash while driving his village issued vehicle in 2013. According to Patch, Deetjen left the car in the ditch in Palos Park without contacting police. He was not issued a traffic citation in that crash.