66-Year-Old Man Was Second Bystander Killed After a Police Chase This Year

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Willie Owens, right.

Last week, a high-speed police chase in Grand Crossing ended in a multi-car crash that killed a 66-year-old man and injured several other people. It was the second time an innocent bystander had been killed this year by a suspect evading fleeing police officers.

Last Monday evening, police pulled over Paul Forbes, 26, after he ran a stop sign near 75th Street and Maryland Avenue, according to prosecutors. After an officer exited her car, Forbes sped off in his Pontiac, fleeing west on 75th. He ran a light at St. Lawrence Avenue, and then another at King Drive, where he nearly struck a CTA bus that was traveling north, and then collided with a southbound Saturn car.

As a result of the right-angle crash, the Saturn careened into a fence, prosecutors said. Its driver, a 71-year-old woman, suffered multiple vertebrae and ribcage fractures, prosecutors said. Her mother, an 88-year-old woman who was in the passenger seat, suffered spinal fractures and was paralyzed.

After striking the Saturn, Forbes crashed his car into a Chevrolet pickup truck owned by Willie Owens, 66, who was standing in front of the vehicle changing the battery, according to prosecutors. The collision amputated Owens’ leg, and he was thrown 15 feet. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

After Forbes crashed into the pickup, it collided with a Chevrolet sedan, prosecutors said. The two occupants were taken to Jackson Park Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, treated and released.

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The crash site. Image: Google Maps

Following the crash, Forbes tried to flee on foot and was soon apprehended by police and treated at St. Bernard Hospital for minor injuries, according to prosecutors. The police found that, at the time of the crash, there was an outstanding warrant for Forbes’ arrest due to an incident last November in which he pulled a gun on an ex-girlfriend. His driver’s license had been suspended because of multiple moving violations and insurance issues.

Judging from data from Forbes’ car’s airbag module, Major Accidents investigators estimated that he had been traveling between 80 and 90 mph prior to the crash, prosecutors said. He was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated fleeing, driving on a suspended license, and two counts of aggravated battery. At a hearing on Thursday, a judge ordered him held without bail, DNAinfo reported.

Chicagoist noted that this was the second police chase this summer which resulted in a death. On July 11, 13-month-old Dillan Harris was fatally struck while sitting in his stroller at a bus stop, by a driver who was fleeing police officers. Several other people have been injured this year by suspects who were being pursued by officers.

Family members told the Chicago Tribune that Willie Owens was a pillar of his community. “He was a guy that helped out anybody that asked him to do anything,” said his nephew Derrick Love.

Owens’ girlfriend Xeavier Dale, who was standing near the pickup truck at the time of the crash, questioned whether it made sense for the police to pursue Forbes at high speeds. “It wasn’t worth it,” she told the Tribune.

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 25 (9 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

  • Pat

    I wonder at what speeds the cops were pursuing. Given the relatively short stretch in which this all unfolded, I wonder if there was even time to call off a chase. It looks like this started and ended pretty quickly.

    Obviously, had this taken place over a longer period of time and distance, the cops would be wise (and I think are required) to end the pursuit. However, I don’t think they should just sit idly by as someone runs off from a traffic stop.

  • neroden

    At least the police themselves didn’t crash into anyone, which they have done in other cities.

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