'His presence was as big as his stature': Support pours in for Batavia officer's family
Joe Gudella had spent just a little over a year with the Batavia Police Department, but he made a big impression on the community he served.
"The passing of Officer Joe Gudella has been extremely sad news for the department," Chief Shawn Mazza said Thursday about the 36-year-old Gudella, who died Monday. "There are not words to describe the anguish and pain. No one has made a larger impact on BPD in a 14-month period than Joe.
"His presence was as big as his stature, and his positivity and zeal for life infectious," Mazza added. "Joe suggested many initiatives that were focused on community-oriented policing and recruiting. He valued every person he met and found time to listen and talk to everyone."
One of the actions that won over his new community occurred in January, when Gudella helped retrieve a dog who had pulled away from its owner and went for a swim in an icy Fox River.
"He was somebody that really did the Batavia Police Department proud," Mayor Jeff Schielke said.
Gudella died while at a family home in Necedah, Wisconsin. Juneau County authorities have not said what happened. Schielke called the death accidental. On Facebook, people are saying that a friend of Gudella's also was injured.
Friends, relatives, and others -- including a Batavia business owner who gave $5,000 -- had contributed more than $77,000 to a GoFundMe online fundraising campaign for Gudella's family as of late Thursday afternoon. The owner of the Batavia Popcorn Depot also organized an effort to supply water and snacks for Gudella's wake.
City Administrator Laura Newman told aldermen Tuesday it was Gudella who suggested starting the "Coffee With A Cop" program.
Gudella, who grew up in Carol Stream, previously served as a Cook County sheriff's deputy for seven years. He had an associate degree from the Worsham College of Mortuary Science.
He was a 2004 graduate of Glenbard North High School, where he was the quarterback of the football team.
Gudella is survived by his wife, Valerie; children, Audrey and Jack; parents, Wolfram and Lynn; brother, Tom; and a sister, Elizabeth.
A wake will be held Friday, and a funeral Mass is Saturday, according to Salerno Funeral Home.
Lake deputies honored
A trio of Lake County sheriff's deputies is being hailed this week after putting themselves in harm's way to save a suicidal man standing in the middle of a busy roadway.
It all happened about 12:30 p.m. Monday, when deputies Rob Nakanishi, Amanda Hurtado, and Leo Juarez were called to a home along Sheridan Road in Beach Park to help paramedics dealing with a man in his 20s suffering a bipolar episode.
The man initially cooperated with paramedics, but then he fled when told he might need to go to a hospital, sheriff's police said.
The man ran into Sheridan Road, saying things such as "Just run me over and kill me" while moving directly into the path of oncoming vehicles, authorities said. The sheriff's deputies quickly rushed in, risking getting struck by a car, and pulled the man off the roadway.
The man was unharmed and later taken to a hospital for a mental wellness evaluation, officials said.
"Law enforcement from across the nation have seen a tremendous increase over the years in the amount of calls regarding individuals in mental distress," Sheriff John D. Idleburg said. "Our sheriff's deputies always approach these situations with a calm demeanor and utilize de-escalation techniques. I am very proud of Deputies Rob Nakanishi, Amanda Hurtado, and Leo Juarez for their quick thinking, which saved this man's life."
Old scam, new variation
We have warned you about con artists who scam people out of hundreds of dollars by offering fake remote-access repairs to your computer.
Now, scammers are counting on our unwillingness to go without our favorite shows on our smart TVs.
A Geneva-area man reported to the Kane County sheriff's office this week that he came across a likely scam when he tried to watch something Sunday on Hulu.
When he tried to log into his account, it wouldn't accept his password. Frustrated, he refreshed the screen, and a chat window popped up. Thinking he was communicating with a technician from Hulu, he gave them permission to access his computer to fix the problem. The "technician" then offered a $499 annual promotion.
The man gave his credit card number, but then his wife came in and told him she thought it was a scam. The man then froze his account, so it does not appear he lost any money, according to the report.
Hyundai, Kia urged to act
You may have seen in recent weeks that several suburban police departments -- Mount Prospect, Palatine and Lake Zurich among them -- have teamed with carmakers Hyundai and/or Kia to offer steering wheel locks for vehicles susceptible to theft.
Now, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is partnering with his peers from 20 other states plus the District of Columbia to urge the manufacturers to do more to fix what he called a "crisis of car thefts" they created.
According to Raoul's office, from about 2010 to 2021, Hyundai and Kia failed to equip base vehicle models with anti-theft immobilizers, which prevent the vehicle from operating without a key or key fob. That oversight has led to thousands of thefts of the brands' vehicles in recent years, as a hack for starting them without a key or fob spread over social media and elsewhere.
Just last year alone, more than 7,000 Hyundais and Kias were stolen in Chicago, Raoul said. That's about 10% of all Kias and 7% of all Hyundais registered in the city.
Raoul noted Kia and Hyundai installed anti-theft immobilizers as standard equipment in many vehicles sold in other countries, but not the U.S.
The two carmakers have announced plans to upgrade the software of affected vehicles, but Raoul and his colleagues say its rollout is too slow.
"I urge Kia and Hyundai to accelerate a software upgrade to ensure consumers' vehicles are properly equipped to guard against theft," Raoul said.
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