Local

Off-duty cop charged in fatal Stevenson crash

Monday, December 21, 2009

A suburban police officer is charged with causing a fatal crash on I-55 at Cicero Sunday night that killed a Chinatown man.

An off-duty Lockport police officer, Eddie Stapinski, is charged with one count of reckless homicide and one count of aggravated driving under the influence. Officer Stapinski survived the crash and was still hospitalized Monday night.

Stapinski's grandmother told the Chicago Sun-Times that before the accident Stapinski was watching the Blackhawks game and drinking at a Chicago bar.

The 34-year-old off-duty police officer was driving in the southbound lanes when his car flipped over the median and smashed into Man K. Wong's car.

"How can a police officer do such a thing, and he knows. Even though he's an off duty police officer he shouldn't be even drinking. Drinking and driving. Wow," said John Wong, victim's brother.

The accident happened Sunday, at about 9:30 p.m. on the Stevenson.

Investigators said Stapinski was driving south when he lost control of his car.

It jumped the median into the northbound lanes and hit Wong's car head-on.

Both men were taken to Mt. Sinai hospital where Wong died.

Stapinski suffered a possible broken pelvis.

"If you're drinking don't drive. If you're a police officer you should know this stuff better than anyone else. Anybody else- you could make an exception, but a police officer? It's kind of ironic really," said Prudence Wong, victim's cousin.

Stapinski is 34 years old and a 7-year veteran of the Lockport Police Department.

Wong's brother said the charges aren't serious enough.

"My brother is not here anymore he's dead, what good charges gonna do?" said John Wong.

Man Wong was known as "Mike" to his family and friends.

He emigrated from Vietnam in 1991.

He attended Northeastern Illinois University. He worked two jobs to help support his mother who recently lost her husband.

Wong was a manager at a computer company and worked weekends at a restaurant.

He was on his way home from one of his jobs when the accident happened.

Wong is the third member of his family to die in a car crash.

"This is terrible. I don't know what happened to our family. I don't know," said Kenny Wong, victim's uncle.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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