Family and friends are mourning the loss of Elisha Clark, a 25-year-old Grayslake woman who was killed early Thursday morning in Waukegan by a speeding car that ran a red light and struck her vehicle, police say.
They are also questioning the actions of police in their pursuit of the vehicle that killed her.
Waukegan police have not been available for comment over the holiday weekend, but according to a Lake County prosecutor, a Waukegan police officer spotted the driver, Donald Mischke, 54, of Lisle loading a flat-screen television set into his car, parked behind the Target store at Lewis and Sunset.
The prosecutor said the officer attempted to stop Mischke near the store, but Mischke quickly drove away and the officer gave up the pursuit when he turned left off Green Bay Road.
About 2 a.m., Mischke's car ran a red light at Belvidere Road, striking Clark's car in the side, police said.
But Clark's mother, Charolette Travis, disputes the notion that police gave up the pursuit.
"I don't believe that they stopped the pursuit," he said. "I believe the pursuit stopped when the accident happened.
"I know that they didn't stop the pursuit because he ran through the light like that. You wouldn't just run through a light like that, going 100 miles an hour, if somebody wasn't chasing you," Travis said.
Travis said she has derived some comfort from the notion that Elisha didn't suffer.
"When I went to the funeral home yesterday to see her, I could tell that she didn't know it was coming. I'm grateful for that, that she didn't suffer."
But Travis said she is haunted by the devastation suffered by Clark's 8-year-old son, Quinton Idleburg Jr., to the news of his mother's death.
"I never heard an 8-year-old boy cry like that," she said.
Still, Travis said Quinton "has been a little soldier" and even talked about reading about his mother in the newspaper.
Travis said her daughter was outgoing and happy, a "rah-rah" girl who was everybody's cheerleader.
"She just wouldn't let you be down," she said.
Clark, who attended Warren Township High School in Gurnee, was working Thursday night at Kmart in Round Lake and was going from work to visit a friend at the time of the accident, her mother said.
Travis said her daughter had just completed her certification from the Penn Foster Career School to be an administrative assistant.
She said her daughter had always wanted to teach children with mental disabilities.
One of Clark's friends, Joshua Roberts, said she was a very loving, very family-oriented person, a very good mother.
"Her son and her mom were everything to her."
She was also a "phenomenal dancer" with an infectious sense of humor.
Mischke, meanwhile, remains in fair condition at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
He was charged with driving under the influence of drugs after blood drawn from him tested positive for cocaine, prosecutors said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Bradshaw & Range Funeral Home in Waukegan is handling the arrangements.
Travis said she went to her daughter's apartment and recovered the gift Elisha planned to give her son for Christmas. Now, Travis said, she'll be helping to raise Quinton herself.
"For him to be 8 years old and not have his mama in his life is just senseless," she said.
• Staff Writer Tony Gordon contributed to this report.
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