Cop Charged in Fatal Stevenson Crash

Crash on I-55 killed 29-year-old Chinatown man

By BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Dec 21, 2009  |  Updated 8:27 PM CDT
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Cop Charged in Fatal Stevenson Crash

NBCChicago.com

A 34-year-old Lockport police officer has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI for his part in a traffic crash on the Stevenson Expressway Sunday night that left one person dead.

Eddie Stapinski, a 34-year-old with seven years of service, remained in Illinois State Police custody at Mount Sinai Monday night, where he was being treated for cuts on his face and head, and a possible broken pelvis.

Stapinksi was driving southbound on Interstate 55 when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed the interstate's median, hitting 29-year-old Man "Mike" Wong and another vehicle.  Wong was killed.  The driver and passengers in the third vehicle was uninjured, state police said.

Stapinski’s grandmother Mildred Stapinski said her grandson was drinking at a bar in Chicago while watching the Chicago Blackhawks game before the accident.

Wong’s stunned family gathered to mourn at his home on the 2400 block of South Wentworth in Chinatown Monday morning. Wong was ethnically Chinese but emigrated from Vietnam in 1991.

He attended Bogan High School and had received an associates degree in computing at Northeastern Illinois University, relatives said, adding that in his spare time, he loved to run and play basketball.

"It could happen to anybody, but we don't want it happen to anyone.  Drunk driving, causing other people's pain, it's very, very sad, especially with the holidays coming up.  It's ridiculous," Wong's brother, John, said Monday afternoon.

John Wong said he tried to reach his brother by phone at 1 a.m. because he hadn't yet returned him from his job at Chinatown's Evergreen Restaurant.  Two hours later, John Wong said police were at his door to inform him of the accident.

The family said Wong was a "good-hearted person," and the third relative they've lost to a deadly crash.

The crash closed the northbound lanes of Interstate 55 near South Central Avenue for several hours.

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