Kankakee County

Wilmington Man's String of Car Thefts Ends After Collision With School Bus: Police

Kankakee County Sheriff's Department

A Wilmington man is facing charges after he allegedly stole three cars within a 24-hour period and caused a head-on collision with a school bus Monday morning.

According to the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department, Zachary Palmer, 21, was arrested and charged with three counts of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and felony theft in connection with the string of thefts.

Authorities say Palmer, who was recently released from prison on parole after violating parole in another case, stole multiple vehicles within a one-day span. Authorities used OnStar to locate one of the vehicles off of Illinois Route 113 in Grundy County on Monday, and determined that another vehicle had been stolen from a nearby residence.

Police then initiated a pursuit when Palmer fled the scene. The vehicle, allegedly driven by Palmer, crashed into several other cars and side-swiped a Grundy County sheriff’s cruiser before crashing into a school bus.

The bus did not have any children on-board, according to authorities.

Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey criticized the Illinois Department of Corrections, saying that they failed to act to order Palmer’s arrest for violating parole.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that the Department of Corrections, despite being contacted about a parolee who has obviously been wreaking havoc, was reluctant to violate his parole status until several local agencies were forced into making phone calls,” he said in a statement. “This particular individual has proven his intentions time and again to blatantly disregard the laws and to show disregard for anyone else’s safety or personal property in violating our laws.”

The sheriff’s office says that the vehicle thefts all involved cars that had been left unlocked, with keys easily available.

Palmer is also expected to face additional charges on multiple warrants in Iroquois County and from the Illinois Department of Corrections, and he is also suspected in several additional vehicle thefts in Kankakee, Will and Grundy counties.

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