AURORA (STMW) — Police are looking for a 44-year-old west suburban man who is the owner of the car that fatally struck a woman as she tried to rescue a troubled teenager sitting in traffic Monday.

Theresa M. Burns, 57, of the 700 block of South River Road in Des Plaines was struck by a 1997 Chevrolet GEO Metro on Church Road just north of Corporate Boulevard in Aurora at 5:33 p.m. Monday.

The driver of the car ran from the scene, leaving the GEO behind.

Police on Wednesday said the owner of the car, Gustavo Villarreal of the 1600 block of Dearborn Avenue in unincorporated Aurora, has not been heard from or seen since the crash. His family reported him missing to the Kane County Sheriff’s office on Tuesday.

Aurora police want to question Villarreal to see if he has knowledge about the crash. They have been searching for him since the crash, and his family is cooperating, police said.

Burns was a staff member at Northern Illinois Academy, a home and school for people with psychiatric problems. She was in the roadway helping another staff member get an 18-year-old female student who had run from the school and was sitting in the southbound lanes of Church Road, police said.

The southbound GEO Metro struck both Burns and her co-worker, a 25-year-old Plainfield man. Burns was pronounced dead at the scene. The other man was treated and released from an Aurora hospital, police said.

Burns and her co-worker were able to move the teen to safety before they were struck, said Ed Irby, vice chairman of Sequel Youth and Family Services, the mental health system that operates the Northern Illinois Academy.

Burns worked for the academy for about a year and was respected by residents and fellow staff, Irby said.

“She was well trained in the use of de-escalation dialogue when dealing with residents experiencing emotional crisis,” Irby said Tuesday evening. “This is a huge loss to both Theresa’s family and all of us.”

On her Facebook page, Burns wrote that she was fun-loving, and cherished time spent with friends and family.

She worked in the social work field for many years, she wrote, and believed in helping those who needed help and protecting children.

Sequel Youth and Family Services will perform an investigation into the circumstances preceding the death and have put a crisis response team in place at the academy, Irby said.

Villarreal is an Hispanic man, 5-foot-8 and 158 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, police said.

Anyone with information, or who may have seen Villarreal, should call Aurora police at (630) 256-5330.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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