Weis: 'Good leads' in burglary that led to crash

February 24, 2010 3:30:56 PM PST
Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis says it's time to stop placing blame for the crash that killed Sergeant Alan Haymaker.

Since Monday, accusations have flown about what caused the one-car crash. Sgt. Haymaker was on his way to a burglary-in-progress call when he lost control of his squad car and crashed on Lake Shore Drive near Irving Park early Monday morning.

Some people claim that city budget woes led to slick pavement on Lake Shore Drive and others believe the old squad Haymaker was driving played a role. But Supt. Weis said the only persons who could be held responsible in the fatal crash are the suspects in the burglary to which Haymaker was responding. No one has been arrested in the burglary, but Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said detectives are following up on 'good leads.' If an arrest is made in the case, Supt. Weis said he would consider filing murder charges in the case. However that decision would have to be made by the state's attorney.

Some snow plow drivers from Chicago's Streets and Sanitation department told ABC7 their boss is to blame because he told them to stop salting Lake Shore Drive in order to save money.

"It appears everything we're looking at it was an accident and sometimes accidents happen. There's no one to blame, no one to point a finger at," said Supt. Weis.

Witnesses told police it appeared icy roads were a factor. The question now being asked on a popular police blog: Did city penny pinching lead to the slick conditions?

A Streets and Sanitation spokesperson says plowing and salting began Sunday night at 7pm. At 10:50pm: Plow operators on Lake Shore Drive were instructed to only "salt as needed" - because conditions had improved.

A source tells ABC 7, plow drivers were ordered by their boss to stop salting Lake Shore Drive just before midnight. The crash happened just after 5 a.m. However, the streets and san spokesperson says he is "not aware of any specific order to stop salting."

Operators of Chicago's Snow Command have long trumpeted their ability to track in real time the location of snow plows and whether they're spreading salt. But on Wednesday, Streets and Sanitation officials refused to say whether their high-tech tracking can tell them whether Lake Shore Drive was salted in the hours before Sergeant Haymaker's crash.

"No, they salt Lake Shore Drive. You know that," said Mayor Richard M. Daley, who seems content with his trusted Streets and Sanitation chief's actions.

Also at issue- the age of the squad Haymaker was driving. The police department is in the process of replacing its aging fleet of vehicles. Sergeant Haymaker was driving a Chevy Impala squad car with 114,000 miles on it. But police brass say it was serviced last month and there were no reported problems. Supt. Weis says people should be focusing on the officer's family.

"Those are people we need to think of, not trying to affix blame and make outrageous claims about who's to blame and what type of equipment we had on the vehicle. That's just fundamentally wrong," said Supt. Weis.

Haymaker's funeral will be held Friday for a Chicago police officer killed in a crash while responding to a call.

A wake for Sgt. Haymaker will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Bethel Community Church in Chicago, 7601 West Foster. His funeral will be Friday morning at 10 a.m. at the same church.

Police will escort the family to a private burial.