CHICAGO RIDGE, Ill. — A 16-year-old boy was charged with reckless homicide Sunday, after police say he crashed into and killed an off-duty Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy while drag racing in the southwest suburbs late Friday.
According to police, 51-year-old Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Koch finished his shift and was just a half mile from his home in Chicago Ridge when he was struck and killed. The teen suspect is being held in custody as a juvenile offender.
Koch’s long-time partner and best friend, Thomas McGill, said he’s in disbelief.
“I had like over 50 calls and texts on my phone from like Friday night and Saturday morning, then the last one was from his brother Jerry – and I knew something happened to Jim,” McGill said.
In the rain-soaked scene early Saturday morning, the violence of the impact was apparent. Koch’s 2002 Chevy sat mangled and sunken in the street, and the suspect’s 2015 Nissan with a “student driver” sticker sat badly banged up. Authorities say the 16-year-old didn’t have a license at the time.
“I remember when he first got on. Almost 30 years I’ve known him. And yeah, we were partners. He was like a brother to me …” McGill said. “He just didn’t deserve this. The kid did something stupid and he’s got to be held accountable.
On the stretch of road through an industrial corridor – where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour – a cross marks the spot where koch (cook) lost his life. McGill says he’ll remember him as a good cop and loyal friend.
“Jim would give you the shirt off his back, and his last dollar to help you. That’s what he did for people. He was one in a million,” McGill said.
Koch was a 28-year veteran of the sheriff’s department and said to be looking forward to retirement in two years. He was unmarried and didn’t have kids. He did have brothers, one of whom was a Chicago police officer, and another who was a Lansing, Illinois police captain.
“He’s always had my back. I had his. He’s a great friend and great partner and … I’m going to miss him,” McGill said.
Koch’s sister is driving in to the Chicago area from Florida, and once the family has a chance to be together they’ll plan a memorial service and funeral.
A judge ordered the minor be held in custody until an April 5 status hearing.