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UPDATED 07/19/12 – 7:30 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago police are talking with a “person of interest” in the hit-and-run that killed a Cook County correctional officer Wednesday night.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Officer Nikki Bostic-Jones, 38, was crossing the street in the 2900 block of South California Avenue on her way to work around 10:50 p.m., when a van hit her and took her off.
She was flung into another lane, and hit by another car, then pinned underneath a sheriff’s vehicle.
Enrique Lozano tells CBS 2’s Brad Edwards he knows the suspect who was being questioned Thursday. The two had been drinking Wednesday, he said, and his friend later told him about the damage on his vehicle.
“It was an accident,” Lozano said.
The Illinois State Crime Commission is offering a $1,000 reward for tips that lead to an arrest. A 7 a.m. vigil was planned for Bostic-Jones outside her workplace.
The vehicle that hit Bostic-Jones was described as full-sized van, possibly a Chevrolet with blue and white stripes, headed north on California Avenue.
The van that hit her has an Illinois license plate of H941017 or another combination of those characters, and is believed to have damage to the headlights, front end and right side, police said.
A few minutes before she was hit, Bostic-Jones, of Plainfield, was on the phone with her husband, James Raye Jones, reminding him that their daughter had swimming lessons on Thursday.
“And I said, ‘Okay, I’ll see you when you get here,’ and that was it. ‘Love you,’ and that was it,” her husband said.
But she never made it to the other side of California Avenue.
“And then they ended up telling me they took her to Mount Sinai. By the time I made it there, she was dead,” her husband said. “She was dead. I knew she was dead.”
James Raye Jones, who had been married to Bostic-Jones for seven years but had known her for 25, can’t believe his wife is gone.
When doctors told Jones that his wife had passed, he initially thought “that I was going to wake up. It was a dream. It wasn’t true. It can’t be true. We’ve got a 6-year-old daughter. It’s not real.”
Jones said his wife loved being a mother and taking care of their daughter. She also loved her job as a corrections officer.
“I think she just liked the fact that she was going out; she was a sheriff,” Jones said.
And Bostic-Jones’ colleagues at the County Jail were stunned by the news Thursday morning.
“I cried as soon as I heard about it,” another correctional officer said. “As soon as I saw the picture, I cried.”
Sheriff’s office spokesman Frank Bilecki told WBBM Newsradio that Bostic-Jones worked Division 10 – maximum security.
“It’s never easy to deal with some individuals, but again, hearing the stories last night, she did just a wonderful job, and was not just a pleasure to work with for the employees, but again, the detainees treated her with respect because she treated them fairly,” Bilecki said.
Jones is most upset that his wife died in the manner that she did.
“I hate it. Somebody just hit her; just left her there; kept going,” Jones said. “Who does that?”
And how will he remember his soul mate?
“We always laughed at jokes every day,” he said.
Jones also said he needs to be strong, because that is what she would want.
Teamsters Union Local 700 spokeswoman Amy Gorczowski says a stop sign or a traffic light needs to be put up at the site. Corrections officers cross California Avenue at 29th Street, on their way from an employee parking lot to the jail.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
“I speak for all our members there who are just infuriated that it’s taken the death of a hardworking family member to make us realize how dangerous that intersection is,” Gorczowksi said.
Gorczowski says Cook County Jail correctional officers have dangerous jobs as it is, and that it shouldn’t also be dangerous for them to get to their jobs.