Teen Driver Charged In Collision That Killed 4-Year-Old Tinley Park Girl

UPDATED 08/16/11 7:14 p.m.

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — A 17-year-old boy has been charged with hitting and killing a 4-year-old girl in Tinley Park, three months after the deadly accident.

Deandre Wolfe of Oak Forest has been charged as an adult in connection with the crash, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton.

At the Bridgeview courthouse on Monday, he was ordered held on $250,000 bond, Simonton said. A preliminary hearing was set for Sept. 6.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, Wolfe is accused of striking Annabella Loerop as she ran into the street to chase a ball on May 9.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

Annabella was struck by a car driven by a then-16-year-old about 4 p.m. on May 9 in the 6500 block of 175th Street in Tinley Park, police said.

She was pronounced dead at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

She had chased a basketball into the street before the car hit her, said Brenda Bettenhausen, who lives next door to the girl’s family.

The car was eastbound on 175th Street, and two postal workers driving westbound were on the scene seconds after the accident.

“It looked bad, very bad,” one of the workers, Dee Diamond of Matteson, said at the time.

“I thought of my daughter when I saw the girl (lying) in the street,” said Regina Mayerhofer, of Griffith, Ind., who called 911. “The girl has blue eyes and blond hair, just like my daughter.”

Moments later, Diamond and Mayerhofer clasped their hands over their mouths and wept when Bettenhausen told them Annabella had died.

The 17-year-old was charged as a juvenile on Monday, according to Tinley Park police.

He was taken to the Bridgeview Courthouse but bond information was not immediately available.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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  • Roberta Waker

    How tragic that little Annabella had to die. While he is definitely at fault for driving drunk and not looking for children playing in the area; some responsibility must be accepted by the parents of this little girl. Where were they and why was this 4 year old girl allowed to play unsupervised near a busy street? Parents need to watch these little ones more closely because they are THEIR responsibility and if they get hurt or killed the parents will have to live with the consequences too. How sad that she will never grow up. Our sympathy goes out to the parents and family of this little girl as well as the driver, who will also live with this for the rest of his life.

    • Maggie Berkeitz

      Wasn’t it the PARENTS responsibility to tell their 16 year old brat not to consume alcohol and not to drive when you do. Don’t make this unfortunate accident worse by blaming the deceasd girl’s family. They have suffered enough.

  • Arnold Thomas

    Was the girl 4 or 6? How did the postal workers find out that she died moments after the accident, when she was pronounced dead 90 minutes later? Sloppy reporting, who proof reads these stories?

  • ChicagoCitizen

    Wait just a minute. A kid runs out into the street in front of a moving vehicle, and it’s the driver’s fault? It’s no wonder so many drivers leave the scene. Granted, he should not have had alcohol in his system, but the kid chased a ball out in front of a car. What if the driver hadn’t had alcohol in his system, would it still be his fault? She ran out in front of him. Just because he had alcohol in his system, the blame is automatically switched to him? This is just wrong. It wasn’t his fault, she ran out in the street in front of a car. This accident was her fault!

    • Bob White

      Let’s see–mid size cars are about 5,000 lbs and SUV’s are around 7000 lbs on average and this girl probably weighed around 30-40 lbs max, so YES the drivers is responsible to be aware of his/her surroundings and adjust their speed accordingly, especially around children who lack cognition to make proper decisions (not running out into the street). The driver was also too young to consume alcohol and drunk driving is a crime everywhere. This driver had choices–he chose to drink, he chose to drive, he chose to break the law. Put the responsibility where it belongs on the driver.

    • Jake Louis

      It would still be his fault if he was breaking the law to some degree, such as speeding, driving drunk, etc.

  • ChicagoCitizen

    Sometimes a kid will dart out from nowhere, making it impossible to stop in time. Is it still the drivers fault? If so, no wonder so many leave the scene. They need to change the law. The way it is, the driver hasn’t got a chance. His fault or not.

  • Lisa Ladonski

    I feel horribly for this family because they have lost this precious baby. We don’t know that they weren’t there, they could have been standing right there and been telling the girl not to run but she kept running anyway. It only takes a second, and this guy’s reaction time was already slower because of the alcohol.

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