Bank employee stops runaway car in Riverside

Riverside police praised the quick action of a bank employee who stopped a moving, unoccupied vehicle that was driving on the sidewalk and safely guided it back onto the street before it hit any building or pedestrians on July 31 at about 3:40 p.m.

According to police, an 80-year-old North Riverside woman had parked her 2007 Ford Focus in the southwest-most spot in the lot at Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St., and got out the car to go shopping.

However, the woman reportedly left the car’s motor running and did not put the vehicle into park before getting out. After the woman left the car, it slowly began heading westbound down East Burlington Street, on the sidewalk.

Nick Cassano, who works at the PNC Bank which is immediately west of the parking lot, said he was working with some colleagues in a cubicle inside the bank when he saw the unoccupied Ford slowly drive past the front window of the bank.

Cassano ran outside, jogged to the car, which was veering southwest, opened the door and jammed the gear shift into park.

“The car had turned and was heading in The Chew Chew’s direction,” said Cassano, referencing the restaurant located on the south side of the street.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel called Cassano’s action “heroic.”

“If it was not for what can only be described as a heroic and quick acting maneuver by PNC Bank employee Nicholas Cassano, we may have had a tragedy,” Weitzel said. “I believe Mr. Cassano’s quick actions definitely saved lives as the vehicle would not have stopped until it struck a pedestrian or a building.”

Police ticketed the owner of the vehicle, citing her for having expired registration and for illegally parking an unoccupied vehicle.

Elaborate purse, car snatching

Brookfield police reported that a woman’s purse was snatched from a kitchen counter next to a window and then stole the victim’s 2010 Toyota Rav4 to make a getaway at about 3:15 a.m. on July 31, while the home’s occupants slept.

Police believe two people were involved in the burglary/theft, since the window next to the kitchen counter was about seven feet off the ground. It appeared someone clambered up the wall to the window, opened the window, climbed through and then snatched the purse.

According to the police report, the purse would have been visible to anyone from the sidewalk, even with the lights off in the kitchen. Items from the purse were found on the counter and the ground below the window. The homeowners were awakened by their dog, which started barking.

The SUV taken by the offenders was parked in the driveway.

Alleged drug dealer arrested

Edward A. Bower, 28, of LaGrange, faces multiple felony charges of drug possession and delivery after he was found apparently under the influence of drugs in the area of 9th Avenue and Forestview Drive on July 30 at about 6 p.m.

Police reported recovering from Bower 14.7 grams of heroin, 12.3 grams of methamphetamine and 2.8 grams of cocaine, along with packaging materials and 18 hypodermic syringes.

At the time of his arrest, Bower was on parole for a 2014 felony drug possession conviction.

Not guilty plea in stalking case

Larry Herbst, the former Riverside-Brookfield High School board president accused of stalking a Lyons woman earlier this year, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in front of Judge Geary Kull on July 29 at the Maybrook courthouse.

A Cook County grand jury indicted Herbst, 63, earlier in July, charging him with four counts of stalking. Prosecutors allege that Herbst regularly followed a 29-year-old Lyons woman as she walked from her residence to the train station in downtown Riverside between February and May.

Herbst reportedly never attempted to make any contact with the woman, who did not know she was being followed until she was tipped off by a fellow commuter, according to police.

His next court date is Sept. 2 at Maybrook.

Woman pleads guilty to DUI

On July 27, a 51-year-old Riverside woman pleaded guilty to aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a 2014 incident in which her vehicle struck a 10-year-old child crossing the street at Longcommon and Herrick roads.

The child wasn’t seriously hurt, but the driver, Julia A. Rastelli, fled the scene of the accident, which happened as schools were letting out just after 3 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2014. She was taken into custody about six blocks away.

Judge Geary Kull sentenced Rastelli to time served (three days), 18 months’ probation, 480 hours of community service and $1,347 in fines.

These items were obtained from police reports filed by the Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield police departments, July 27 to Aug. 2, 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