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Man steals police cruiser, kills Illinois woman in car crash

An Illinois woman was killed in a violent multi-car accident last week as she was heading to work. The crash involved one other car and a police cruiser that, authorities say, was hurtling down the street at close to 100 mph prior to the collision. According to one Illinois State Police lieutenant, the wreck was among the worst he has seen in his 25-year law enforcement career.

Importantly, however, the police car was not driven by a police officer. Instead, a man who had stolen the cruiser in front of law enforcement officials was behind the wheel. The accident report states that local police had responded to a call regarding a man who would not pay the required bus fare in East St. Louis. They were escorting him off the bus without resistance when the man apparently broke free and jumped into the unlocked police cruiser, which officers had left running.

He shut the door and quickly left the officers behind. Accelerating quickly, he approached an intersection where motorists were paused on a calm Wednesday morning. The man slammed into two vehicles at high speed, sending one careening into nearby trees, while the other struck a telephone pole. The occupant of the latter car, a 41-year-old woman who had just returned from her honeymoon, was killed.

The driver of the stolen police car survived the crash and police waited outside his hospital room so that they could charge him when doctors cleared him to leave. According to a police official, officers are permitted to leave the engine running when they are not in their cruiser, but they must secure the vehicle. The official indicated that the officer in this case failed to secure the cruiser adequately.

Source: KMOV.com, “Woman killed in Metro-East accident recently returned from honeymoon,” Oct. 3, 2012