Ex-worker accused of stealing from destroyed Niles rescue center

October 28, 2013 (NILES, Ill.)

Wright Way rescue Crash Pictures

A representative of Wright-Way Rescue filed a police report Oct. 17, accusing a Chicago woman of accepting donated items for the shelter and keeping them for herself, Niles police said.

According to police, one of the employee's job responsibilities was to pick up donations from local pet stores and deliver them to the shelter, which had been located at 7136 W. Touhy Ave. until a school bus crashed into the building on Oct. 2, causing significant damage.

The representative told police that not many donations had been coming in for the shelter, which is looking to relocate, and she then learned that a large donation of cat litter from a store in Palatine had never been received.

When the employee was questioned about the missing cat litter, she reportedly stated that she did not think the shelter needed it, police said.

The Wright-Way Rescue representative told police that she believes the former employee may have been taking pet supplies for possibly three years, but did not know how much may have been taken and did not want to press charges against her, according to Niles police. No cash donations were reported stolen.

It was 12:50 p.m. Oct. 2 when a school bus was headed eastbound and veered into the building. There were two people on the bus at the time, the 62-year-old driver and another woman. The driver apparently told police she lost control of the vehicle. The driver usually transports special needs students. No children were aboard the bus at the time of the crash.

The bus driver was cited for failure to reduce speed and was given standard alcohol and drug testing. The staff and animals of Wright-Way Pet Rescue joined other onlookers as engineers figured out the best way to secure the structure that day.

"At this point, we don't know if the building is savable, so we don't have anywhere to go if it's not savable," said Christy Anderson, Wright-Way Rescue.

The first order of business was removing the 65-foot tower anchored to the roof. Authorities were concerned it could topple over onto power lines.

Twelve employees and 25 animals were in the building at the time of the crash. Two women suffered minor injuries. Some animals that were reported to have escaped after the accident have been accounted for. The last to be found, Bobbin the cat, was found hiding under a crate.

A spokesperson for the shelter says the bus drove through to the back of the business, sending people and animals running.

"I heard this huge crash, and I ran out of the bathroom, and all I saw was this bus," said Kim Bergman, shelter worker.

"We have a whole separate facility six hours south of here where animals at risk of euthanasia stay until they're ready for adoption. So, shutting down this facility basically means that all of those animals won't be able to come up to find homes," said Anderson.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire - Copyright Chicago Sun-Times 2013.)

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