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UPDATED 07/20/12 11:46 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Loved ones gathered in front of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse and Jail on California Avenue Friday morning , to honor the life of a correctional officer who was killed in by a speeding van earlier this week.
Meanwhile, police continue to question a suspect in the case.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, Nikki Bostic-Jones, 38, worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in the maximum security Division 10 at the jail. She was on her way across California Avenue to work Wednesday night when a van hit her and took her off.
On Friday morning, a vigil was held in her honor. As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, it was held at 7 a.m.–the time she would have been leaving the jail from her overnight shift working in the maximum security wing.
California Avenue was closed for a time so Bostic-Jones’ friends could say goodbye. The sound of bagpipes pierced the air as hundreds of correctional officers gathered for the memorial roll call outside the jail.
In the middle of the crowd, Bostic-Jones’ family gathered as her co-workers paid tribute to a woman whose legacy will long live inside the jail’s walls.
“The most cherished memories that we’ll have of officer Bostic is her beautiful smile, her bubbly personality, and her love of her family,” said Cook County Sheriff’s Lt. Leon Marmol.
Officer LaToya Hairston talked of her own financial struggles, and how Bostic-Jones was there for the Hairston family during her time of need too.
“I came to the locker room, and she said, ‘Here.’ She said, ‘It’s not much, but it’ll buy you a couple of Big Macs for the week,” Hairston said.
The crowd laughed at the memory. But tears predominated Friday morning, as loved ones remembered a mom who died Wednesday when she was run down by a hit-and-run driver.
Bostic-Jones’ husband, James Raye Jones, had the difficult task of trying to make their six year old daughter come to terms with the fact that mommy won’t be coming home again.
“She understands, that you know, her mommy’s in heaven, because her grandparents are also up there too,” Jones said.
It was also Jones’ job to lead the release of hundreds of balloons which were sent skyward in honor of his wife of seven years.
As he released the balloons, Jones said he was thinking “if I could go up there with my wife.”
Bostic-Jones was headed in to work at the maximum security Division 10 at the jail. She was crossing California Avenue around 10:50 p.m. Wednesday, 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.
A suspect was taken into custody on Thursday, and was still being questioned early Friday by Major Accident Investigation Unit investigators at Area Central police headquarters, 5101 S. Wentworth Ave. He had not been charged as of 5 a.m.
Enrique Lozano told CBS 2’s Brad Edwards he knows the suspect who was being questioned Thursday. The two had been drinking Wednesday, he said.
“We had a few beers in my crib,” Lozano said.
His friend later told him about the damage on his vehicle that was caused by slamming into Bostic-Jones.
“He told me about the dent on his van. I asked what happened and he said, ‘I don’t know,’” Lozano said.
Police say the driver of the van took off after fatally injuring Bostic-Jones, of Plainfield, as she arrived for work, and a roll call for her that was not to be. Her husband, James Raye Jones, still can’t believe what happened.
“I hate it. Somebody just hit her; just left her there; kept going,” Jones said. “Who does that?”
But Lozano says his friend just made a fatal mistake.
“It was an accident,” Lozano said. “It was nothing he wants to do, you know?”
But nothing can change what happened, and that is as certain as the memorial bunting hanging in front of Bostic-Jones’ workplace, and the growing memorial outside her workplace.
Bostic-Jones worked for the Cook County Sheriff’s office for some 13 years. She leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter, also named Nikki, and her husband.
The suspect is reportedly a 57-year-old man who lives in the area.