A Brookfield man who allegedly drove his 1994 Jeep Cherokee off an expressway exit ramp and into the Des Plaines River in late September was cited by the Illinois State Police for leaving the scene of an accident, failure to give information and improper lane usage, according to a state police spokeswoman.

Sgt. Lorraine Kochajkiewicz of the Illinois State Police said no further charges are expected to be filed against 22-year-old James V. Niemiec, who reportedly drove his car into the Des Plaines River while exiting Interstate 55 at First Avenue during the early morning hours of Sept. 29.

Brookfield police learned of the incident on the afternoon of Sept. 29, when paramedics were called to Niemiec’s home to treat him for injuries he suffered in the incident.

Niemiec reportedly had glass in his hands, swelling around his left eye and scratches on both hands and forearms.

According to the police report, Niemiec and three friends had been out at a bar in Chicago the previous night. The foursome split up some time after 2 a.m. after an alleged quarrel about driving home.

Niemiec reportedly told police he left the bar at 2 a.m. and was “struck by an unknown person.” The next thing he said he remembered was waking up in the back seat of his vehicle, which was under water. He reportedly kicked out the rear passenger window to escape, unsuccessfully tried to recover his wallet and cellphone and climbed an embankment to a road.

Once there, someone pulled over and asked if he needed a ride. Niemiec reportedly told the person to take him to a friend’s house in Riverside, where he showed up at 6:30 a.m. “soaking wet and covered with blood,” according to the police report.

Niemiec reportedly told his friend he had been jumped by three men and forced to drive around. He crashed the vehicle after struggling with the men, he told his friend, according to the report.

Initially, said police, Niemiec had no idea where his car had crashed. On Oct. 2 about 7 a.m., McCook police notified the Summit Police Department that a vehicle appeared to have driven off the southbound First Avenue exit ramp on I-55, over the guard rail and into the river.

Officer Gilbert Garza of the Summit Police said the vehicle was in water about 3 feet deep or so.

“It was sitting upright,” said Garza. “Right there the water is really shallow, about three feet. The top of the doors were under water.”

The Illinois State Police had the vehicle towed out of the water, said Kochajkiewicz.

BB gun stolen from store

North Riverside police say four youths staked out a sporting good store and then robbed it of at least one BB gun about 8 p.m. on Oct. 8.

According to police, at least one of the offenders was seen in Sports Authority, 1800 Harlem Ave., just after 7 p.m., walking around inside. Just before 8 p.m., two unknown offenders ran into the store and grabbed BB guns from behind the front counter, while two others stood guard. Employees recognized the one of the offenders as the person inside the store earlier that evening.

One offender also grabbed a box of CO2 cartridges, but dropped the box and the gun prior to leaving the scene, police said. A second offender grabbed a BB gun and punched a 21-year-old female employee in the face before running out of the store and running northbound on Harlem Avenue with the others.

At about 9:30 p.m. police received a tip that youths with a BB gun were seen walking down 16th Street in Berwyn. However, police could not locate any suspects.

Vacant Brookfield home burglarized

A real estate agent notified Brookfield police on Oct. 3 that a vacant home in foreclosure in the 4400 block of Blanchan Avenue was burglarized some time after 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 1.

When the agent visited the property at 10 a.m. on Oct. 3, he found the front door ajar. Among the items missing from inside the house were a washer and dryer and a hot water heater. Outside, the central air-conditioning condenser was also missing from the backyard.

Take my parking spot, will ya?

A Berwyn woman who parked her 2004 Ford Taurus in a spot she thought was being vacated in the lot near Michael’s, 7231 W. 24th St., North Riverside, angered a man who was backing out of the spot about 7:45 p.m.

After she pulled into the spot, the man who backed out and two his female passengers yelled, “You’ll get yours” before parking in another spot and entering Best Buy. When the woman returned to her car 15 minutes later, she noticed a large scratch along the entire driver’s side of her vehicle.


These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, Oct. 2-9, 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