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    Joliet officer seriously injured in crash

    From the Chicago Tribune http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...ck=1&cset=true

    June 12, 2007

    A Joliet police officer remained hospitalized with head injuries Monday after he was involved in a two-car collision while answering a Sunday night call.

    Gregory Kazak, 23, was driving one of three Joliet squad cars on Black Road near Horseshoe Drive that were responding to an "all units" call around 10:30 p.m. for a disturbance in the Fairmont neighborhood, Joliet Police Chief Fred Hayes said. The squads were using their lights and sirens, he said.

    A 53-year-old resident of Horseshoe Drive pulled his 1994 Dodge Caravan mini-van over to the right to yield to the first squad, Hayes said. Apparently unaware of the other police cars, the driver pulled back onto the road into the path of Kazak's vehicle.

    Kazak maneuvered into the oncoming lane in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid colliding with the mini-van. His squad careened off the Caravan, crashed into a street light pole and flipped, Hayes said. An officer driving the third car was able to avoid the collision.

    The Joliet Fire Department extracted the unconscious Kazak from his squad, and he was taken to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center where he was initially listed in critical condition. His condition was upgraded Monday to serious, Hayes said.

    Hayes said a reconstruction of the crash suggests the mini-van driver did not realize the other squads were approaching the intersection. He was not ticketed.

    The driver and a passenger in his vehicle were treated at Provena St. Joseph and released. Hayes said the "pretty horrific" crash was "eerily similar" to one in 2004 that killed Johnathan "Wood" Walsh, 27, who had been a Joliet police officer for 3 1/2 years.

    Kazak has been on the Joliet force for about 18 months. Hays described him as a "highly respected, well-liked and mild-mannered officer."
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