Beitel says three
officer had lights and sirens on in fatal collision
ROCHELLE — A final report detailing results from an investigation into the July 27 two-vehicle collision involving a Rochelle Police Department squad car that left a local man dead, will be released as soon as the on-going investigation concludes, according to Ogle County Sheriff Greg Beitel.
The Ogle County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation, since a Rochelle officer was involved in the accident.
According to a sheriff’s department report, at approximately 1:45 p.m. on July 27, Rochelle Police Officer James Jakymiw was responding to a call on the north side of town and traveling northbound on IL Route 251 with his lights and sirens activated, when a westbound vehicle driven by David A. Becker, 72, of Rochelle, reportedly pulled out in front of Jakymiw at the Eighth Avenue intersection.
Jakymiw’s squad car broadsided the driver’s side of Becker’s vehicle and pushed it into a tree in a nearby corner yard. Becker was later pronounced dead at Rochelle Community Hospital. His wife, Judy Becker, 70, was a passenger in the vehicle and was transported to RCH for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The officer was flown to a Rockford hospital with serious head and hand lacerations.
Since the accident, an autopsy revealed that Becker died of blunt force trauma to the chest as a result of the accident.
Questions have arisen in the weeks since the accident from some local residents as to the speed the squad car may have been traveling, and whether or not the officer had activated emergency lights and sirens just before the collision.
“Information that the lights and sirens were not on is absolutely false,” Beitel said.
He noted that two engineers surveying future road work were at the intersection of IL Route 251 and Eighth Avenue when the accident occurred and witnessed the collision, as did a motorist traveling southbound at the time. Beitel said all witnesses stated that officer Jakymiw had his lights and sirens on at the time of the collision.
In addition, Beitel said sheriff’s deputies attempted to investigate a report of a Rochelle resident living nearby the intersection who told a Rockford TV station that the lights and sirens were not activated, but according to Beitel the resident apparently had his back to the scene of the accident and did not substantiate the claim when interviewed by investigators.
“There is no credible information at this point to dispute the statement of witnesses who were at the scene,” Beitel said.
The squad car Jakymiw was driving was not his own, Beitel said. Since his vehicle was being serviced, Jakymiw took one of the department’s utility squad vehicles from the station when an emergency domestic violence call came through. The utility vehicle’s video recording system, which officers must log onto, had not been activated yet for the day and no video material is available for investigators.
Beitel added though that the sheriff department is currently looking into the car’s black box for more information about the incident. Since the vehicle the officer was driving is equipped with a newer computer, the department had to order a new cable before information could be downloaded off of the black box.
“That could shine some light on what the squad car was doing,” he said.