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posted: 1/12/2014 8:00 AM

Fatal accidents raise safety questions on Oakton Street

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  • Mary Swieca holds a photograph of her husband, Joseph, who was killed when he was struck by a car in December near his home in Elk Grove Township.

      Mary Swieca holds a photograph of her husband, Joseph, who was killed when he was struck by a car in December near his home in Elk Grove Township.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Mary Swieca looks at photographs of her husband, Joseph, who was killed when he was struck by a car in December near his home in Elk Grove Township.

      Mary Swieca looks at photographs of her husband, Joseph, who was killed when he was struck by a car in December near his home in Elk Grove Township.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Joseph Swieca was killed in a car versus pedestrian crash a month ago near his home in Elk Grove Township, and his wife, Mary, is still looking for answers. This is second deadly crash in the area within six months, and it's raising questions about roadway safety along Oakton Street.

       Joseph Swieca was killed in a car versus pedestrian crash a month ago near his home in Elk Grove Township, and his wife, Mary, is still looking for answers. This is second deadly crash in the area within six months, and it's raising questions about roadway safety along Oakton Street.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Joseph Swieca was killed when he was struck by a car a month ago near his home in Elk Grove Township, and his wife, Mary, is still looking for answers. This is second deadly crash in the area within six months, and it's raising questions about roadway safety along Oakton Street.

       Joseph Swieca was killed when he was struck by a car a month ago near his home in Elk Grove Township, and his wife, Mary, is still looking for answers. This is second deadly crash in the area within six months, and it's raising questions about roadway safety along Oakton Street.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Two deadly accidents within six months on Oakton Street near Elk Grove Village have caused some people to question whether safety measures couldn't be installed.

The fatal accidents -- a 4-year-old boy hit by a semitrailer truck last July and a 66-year-old man struck by a car two weeks before Christmas -- both happened on the same stretch of unincorporated Oakton Street, with a mobile home park on the north side and businesses on the south side.

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Joseph Swieca, 66, was crossing Oakton Street from his home in the Willoway Terrace mobile home community to a mechanic shop across the street at around 5:50 p.m. on Dec. 13, when he was struck and killed by a car.

According to the Cook County Sheriff's Department, the driver stopped at the scene, but there have been no arrests or citations. Swieca was not in a crosswalk and was in an unlighted area, the sheriff's department said.

But, his wife, Mary, said that is no comfort to her. The two were high school sweethearts who reconnected later in life.

Widowed in Ohio, Mary Swieca moved back to the Chicago area to work as a nurse. On her first day, a familiar face showed up.

"He was my first patient," she remembered. "We just picked up right where we left off. He was a good man, a little shy, but he took care of me."

Their 24th wedding anniversary would have been Christmas Day.

Timothy Stef, owner of Magnum Automotive where Swieca was heading when he was hit, said he has gotten used to accidents near his business.

"It's the third one this year, the second death. They have to do something, this is too much," Stef said. "I usually hear the tires screech and run outside to see what happened." Stef said by the time he arrived outside on Dec. 13, it was already too late.

"I tried to talk to police and ask about getting a crosswalk, but I didn't get very far," he said. Stef said he will be putting more lights around his business soon to brighten up the area.

In July, 4-year-old Jaden Jacobo, of Chicago, was visiting relatives and riding his bike on a driveway in the mobile home park when he got too close to the street and a semitrailer truck hauling a 53-foot trailer hit him. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Like in Swieca's death, this was ruled accidental, and no one was cited.

That section of Oakton Street is technically a state-maintained road, but Cook County Highway Department officials said they would support changes to improve the road's safety.

"Our Transportation and Highways Department stands ready to assist the state or local jurisdiction with assessing improvements to the roadway to alleviate any dangerous conditions," said Cook County Public Information Officer Frank Shuftan.

Calls to the Illinois Department of Transportation for comment about the road's safety were not returned.

"They need a crosswalk out there. The closest one is completely out of the way for our community," Mary Swieca said. "Maybe this wouldn't have happened. It's just terrible."

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