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Retired Fire Captain Struck, Killed In Hit-And-Run In Crete

Leonard Bottando (handout)

Leonard Bottando (handout)

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CRETE, Ill. (CBS) — A retired Steger fire captain died early Monday after being struck by a vehicle in south suburban Crete.

Leonard Bottando, 70, of Steger, was struck by a vehicle in the 1300 block of Main Street in Crete, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

An autopsy Monday determined Bottando died from multiple injuries suffered from being struck by a vehicle, according to the medical examiner’s office. His death was ruled an accident.

Bottando, an Air Force veteran, had been at the Edge Ministries Coffee Shop in Crete attending a program on wounded warriors.

He walked out of the coffee shop and tried to cross Main Street when he was struck.

On Monday, a memorial sign at the coffee shop and “Lenny’s” favorite chair were somber reminders of what happened.

“To just go ahead on and leave somebody laying in the street, that’s not very nice,” customer Michael Schaal tells CBS 2’s Pamela Jones.

Police responded at 8 p.m. Sunday to a call of a person struck by a vehicle. Bottando, of the 3600 block of Chicago Road in Steger, was pronounced dead at 12:18 a.m. Monday at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights, the medical examiner’s office said.

Crete police are investigating the accident as a reckless homicide. Police are looking for a Chevrolet utility vehicle with front-end damage. Closed circuit video from local businesses is being reviewed to identify the vehicle.

Bottando worked for the Steger fire department for about 30 years, Steger Fire Chief Jeff Roesner said.

After retiring in about 1999 or 2000, Bottando continued to work for the village inspecting new building construction and inspecting businesses and residences before re-occupancy until 2007, Steger Asst. Fire Chief Nowell Fillion said. He then began working his current job as a driver for a rental car company.

He also worked as a Local Union 9 electrician for the Chicago Transit Authority from 1967-1995, Fillion said.

In 1976, Bottando purchased an antique gas station in the 3400 block of Chicago Road in Steger, Fillion said. About two years ago, it was converted to include a used car dealership.

“He was loved by everyone,” Fillion said. “There was never a dull moment with him. He was always there for you.”

Bottando, a widower, is survived by three adult children and one grandchild.

Anyone with information should contact Crete police at (708) 672-0911.

Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire. (Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)