Two men suffered serious injuries early on March 3 when their car careened out of control and struck an SUV, which burst into flames, near the intersection of Rochester and Grove avenues in Brookfield.

According to LaGrange Police Chief Michael Holub, the men were fleeing police who were about to make a routine traffic stop on LaGrange Road just before 1 a.m.

The officer was traveling in the opposite direction and noticed that there was no front license plate on the vehicle. He made a U-turn to make the stop and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera took off, Holub said, before the officer had the chance to put on his emergency lights. It turned out the car had no front plate because the rear plate was registered in Kansas, which does not require a front plate.

“He just took off on us,” said Holub. “He saw the U-turn and took immediate evasive action, going through alleys. We never got up close.”

But even trailing the vehicle by several blocks, the LaGrange officer reported seeing the Oldsmobile bottom-out and spin out of control. According to Holub, the car came to rest on its hood and had heavy roof damage, suggesting the car may have tumbled a couple of times before coming to rest.

The car struck a parked Chevy Blazer, rupturing the gas tank and setting off a fire, which burned around the Oldsmobile, where the two men were trapped.

Brookfield Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi said that when firefighters arrived, they saw the engine compartment of the Oldsmobile also on fire. Brookfield police, who arrived first, said Lenzi, used extinguishers to help contain the blaze in the car where the men were trapped.

It took about 20 minutes for Brookfield and Riverside firefighters to extricate the first man from the vehicle, Lenzi said. He was found in the backseat. The other man, who was trapped under the dashboard, took almost an hour to extricate, Lenzi said. Both were taken to Loyola University Medical Center.

Holub said Friday that LaGrange police had no plans to charge the two men since his officer never technically engaged the vehicle in a chase.

“They obviously have much more serious issues with their injuries than a municipal ticket for some minor traffic violations,” Holub said. “I don’t even know if my officer even would be able to identify which of the two was the driver.”

Brookfield police have identified the driver of the Olds as Christian L. Gish, 18, of Salina, Kansas. The passenger was identified by Brookfield police as Joseph A. Majka, 29, of Chicago.

On Monday, both men were still recovering from their injuries at Loyola University Medical Center. Anne Dillon, spokeswoman for the hospital, said Gish was in serious condition while Majka’s condition was listed as fair.

According to the accident report prepared by Brookfield police, the license plate on the Olds was registered to another vehicle in Abilene, Kansas. The report states police were unable to determine ownership of the Oldsmobile.

Drug arrests

Brookfield resident Brandon W. Perna, 18, was charged with possession of cannabis and possession with intent to deliver after an officer stopped him for a routine vehicle equipment violation on March 4 at about 7 p.m. in the 9300 block of Jefferson Avenue in Brookfield.

Initially, the officer spotted Perna sitting in a silver Monte Carlo, which was parked on Madison Avenue south of Grand Boulevard. According to the report, Perna was looking down as if he had something in his lap.

As soon as the officer passed, Perna allegedly drove off and then took off west on Washington Avenue at a high rate of speed. The officer also reported that the vehicle’s rear registration light was out.

During the traffic stop, the officer reported smelling the odor of cannabis coming from the car. A search of the vehicle reportedly found on the front floor a small plastic bag with 1 gram of cannabis inside it. In the center console of the car, police said, was a large plastic bag with seven smaller bags, each containing about 1 gram of cannabis; a metal grinder, a glass smoking pipe and a digital scale.

The total amount of cannabis was 8.9 grams, police reported. Perna was also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and cited for the burned-out registration light.

Riverside police charged Brookfield resident Lucas W. Nebelski, 17, with possession of cannabis after police reportedly found a bag containing 22 grams of marijuana inside the glove box of his 1995 Ford sedan.

He was stopped by police for driving with a broken tail light. Nebelski was also cited for driving without a valid license and driving an uninsured vehicle.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments from March 1 to March 7 and represent a portion of the incidents to which police responded. Unless otherwise indicated, anybody named in these reports has only been charged with a crime. These cases have not been adjudicated.

– Compiled by Bob Uphues