CHICAGO (CBS) — Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen has been placed on administrative leave, four days after he was arrested for a hit-and-run accident that left a man critically injured in neighboring Chicago Ridge.
During a special meeting of the Oak Lawn village board, Deetjen was placed on paid leave, and Police Chief Randy Palmer was named as interim village manager, pending the results of the police investigation of the hit-and-run.
Thursday night, Chicago Ridge police responded to a hit-and-run crash near 101st and Harlem, and found a 48-year-old man who had been hit by a car. The victim, Mark Berkshire, of Worth, was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in critical condition.
Chicago Ridge Police said, according to witnesses, the car that hit Berkshire was owned by the village of Oak Lawn. The car was located at a home near 51st Avenue and 96th Street in Oak Lawn, and the driver was identified as Deetjen, who was taken into custody.
Chicago Ridge Police said Deetjen and Oak Lawn Police were cooperating with the investigation.
“There’s no indication that he had been drinking and he submitted to a urine test and that we have to send to the lab to drugs but at this time we don’t suspect anything. Breathalyzer showed zero,” said Chicago Ridge Police Chief Robert Pyznarski. “There’s no indication that he had been drinking and he submitted to a urine test and that we have to send to the lab to drugs but at this time we don’t suspect anything. Breathalyzer showed zero.”
Pyznarski said Deetjen told investigators he knew he had hit something, but didn’t see traffic stop, so he thought it was just something in the road, and kept going. It was dark and raining at the time.
No charges have been filed as of Monday afternoon.
Deetjen, 70, also left the scene of another accident just a few years back, although no one was hurt in that incident.
In 2013, Palos Park Police found Deetjen’s village-issued car “unoccupied” with “under carriage damage” after the car hit a cement block on Southwest Highway.
Cops ran the plate and traced the car in the ditch to the Village of Oak Lawn.
It turned out a Village of Oak Lawn truck and tow truck arrived to pick up the vehicle first.
Deejten said he “was not familiar with the area at night” had “made a U-turn” and “went into a ditch.”
In the 2013 accident, Deetjen did not injure anyone, but also failed to stay on scene.
This time, the accident left that man seriously injured.
Police don’t believe alcohol was a factor.
“He was distressed after hearing about it … and he realized the importance of how severe it was … so he’s regretful about what happened,” Pyznarski said.