Retired Fire Captain Killed in Hit-and-Run

Retired Air Force Reservist hit on Veterans Day by what officials believe was a Chevrolet utility vehicle

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Leonard Bottando hit on Veterans Day by what officials believe was a Chevrolet utility vehicle. Natalie Martinez reports. (Published Monday, Nov 12, 2012)

    A retired Steger fire captain died early Monday, hours after being struck by a hit-and-run vehicle as he crossed a street in nearby Crete, officials said.

    Leonard Bottando, 70, had just left "The Edge," a coffee shop he frequented, when he was struck as he crossed the 1300 block of Main Street.

    The shop isn't open on Sundays, but manager Shannon Oskam said Bottando, of the 3600 block of Chicago Road, in Steger, was on hand for a special "wounded warrior" event where veterans get together to share stories.

    "It's very ironic that he'd be killed on Veterans Day,' said Oskam.

    Bottando had served in the Air Force Reserve. He'd also served with the Steger Fire Department, earning the rank of captain.

    "He's like my second father," said Steger's Asst. Fire Chief, Nowell Fillion.

    Though he retired, Bottando didn't sit still for long. He owned an historic gas station in Crete that is now Route 1 Auto Sales.

    "You couldn't ask for a more likeable guy," said manager Jim Mowatt, adding that he considered Bottando more of a friend than a landlord.

    And while he was a firefighter, Bottando is said to have treated local police like family as well.

    "He'd grill out here, make them lunch and stuff," said Mowatt.

    When he was found, first responders took Bottando to St. James Medical Center. He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.

    Bottando's son called his father a "force of nature."

    "As my dad, I think he was the dad. You could measure my dad up against anybody's dad anytime," said Michael Bottando.

    Crete police said they're looking for a Chevrolet utility vehicle with front-end damage. Closed circuit video from local businesses is being reviewed to identify the vehicle.

    Anyone with information should contact Crete police at 708-672-0911.