The 72-year-old man killed in a hit-and-run crash in Niles on Thursday night was walking home from buying a thank you card for the priest who officiated his wedding earlier this year, the man's widow said.
"I said, 'Be careful, honey.' We always used to tell each other we love you. We always used to say we love each other. 'Love you, love you too honey.' We didn't say that last night. Why didn't we say that to each other? We always say that to each other," Michael Potwora's widow Mary recalled.
The two had been together for 18 years and got married four months ago, she said Friday. Michael Potwora had walked to the store Thursday night to buy the card and was on his way back when he was fatally struck about a block from his home.
The deadly crash occurred at around 6:24 p.m. at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue and Betty Terrace in Niles, police said. It was a route Mary Potwora said her husband had taken many times before.
Authorities said Michael Potwora, of the 8500 block of North Chester Avenue, was crossing Greenwood from east to west when a white pickup or SUV struck him in the far right northbound lane.
A second vehicle hit the first car from behind and stayed on the scene to help Michael Potwora, according to Niles police, who said the white car that hit him fled the scene northbound on Greenwood.
Michael Potwora was taken to Lutheran General Hospital where he was pronounced dead just after 7 p.m., officials said.
Mary Potwora said the thank you card her husband bought - as well as a carton of chocolate milk and a candy bar - were found at the intersection where he was hit.
A cancer survivor herself, Mary Potwora is just beginning to process her grief, mourning the loss of her new husband who she described as "caring" and "would do anything for anybody."
"I didn't marry him to bury him," she said. "I didn't marry Michael to go to a funeral home."
"We went to the cemetery on Christmas Day because he liked to go honor his mom and dad," Mary Potwora said. "And he said, 'I'm not ready to come up there, Mom. I have a wonderful wife to take care of me.'"
Michael Potwora worked for the postal service for 43 years, earning more than 20 awards over his career, his wife said. He had just suffered a stroke in August, Mary Potwora said, adding that she had so many questions for the driver who hit him.
"I want to know who this is. I want closure, I want whoever did this, I want the person to come forward so I can see them, talk to them," she said.
"What were you doing? Where were you going? Were you going to work? Were you on your phone? Were you intoxicated? Was there something wrong that you didn't see that you killed my husband?"
The investigation into the crash remained ongoing, with Niles police asking anyone with information to contact them at (847) 588-6500.