|Birth: ||Jul. 9, 1975|
|Death: ||Jul. 2, 1998|
CARL SANDBURG HIGH SCHOOL 1992
CAUSE OF DEATH:
On July 2nd at 1:08 a.m., a northbound Orland Park police officer clocked a southbound 1997 Lincoln Mark Vill doing 65 m.p.h. in a 45-m.p.h. zone on Wolf Road. The officer pursued the car with his emergency lights on but turned them off when he learned the car had been stolen. The officer continued to follow the speeding car. After the Lincoln sped up and blew a traffic light at 147th Street, the officer backed off afraid of speeding in a residential area. The Lincoln driver, 36-year-old James Billis, lost control, crossed over into the southbound lane, struck a guardrail, and landed in a drainage ditch near 141st Street & Wolf Road. Billis was the lone survivor and suffered broken bones and head injuries. The other victims were Erin L. Hitch, 24-year-old Terrence Heidegger of Orland Park and 23-year-old Richard Tracey of Orland Park.
An investigation later revealed that before the crash, the Lincoln Mark Vill had been speeding between 70-80mph. There was also open beer cans in a cooler in the vehicle and Billis's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit. The stolen Lincoln Mark Vill had been reported missing on June 9, 1998, from Hinsdale.
James Billis was later charged with reckless homicide, possession of a stolen car, driving with a suspended license, operating an uninsured car, illegal transportation of open alcohol, disobeying a red light and speeding in August of 1998. The victims mothers were unhappy with the charges and spent months attempting to persuade the Cook County state's attorney's office to upgrade the charges from reckless homicide to felony murder.
In November of 1998, the women were rewarded when the Cook County State Attorney charged James Billis with 14 counts of felony murder, one count of aggravated drunken driving, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle. In 2000, the charges against Billis were still pending.
7-2-1998 Chicago Sun Times
"3 die when stolen car crashes as cop tails"
7-2-1998 Courier News
"Alcohol a factor in stolen car crash that killed three"
7-2-1998 Chicago Tribune
"3 KILLED, 1 INJURED IN WRECK IN ORLAND - POLICE DENY OFFICER CHASED CAR REPORTED STOLEN"
7-10-1998 Chicago Tribune
"Man Charged in Fatal Orland Park Crash"
8-20-1998 Chicago Tribune
"Man pleads not guilty in crash that killed 3"
10-27-1998 Chicago Tribune
"VICTIMS' MOMS PROD PROSECUTORS IN FATAL ACCIDENT - 3 PRESSING FOR MURDER CHARGES"
11-12-1998 Chicago Tribune
"CHARGES UPGRADED IN FATAL CAR WRECK - VICTIMS' MOMS PRESS COUNTY PROSECUTORS"
Son & Brother
Terry J. Heidegger, Jr.
July 9, 1975 - July 2, 1998
Good Shepherd Catholic Cemetery
Maintained by: GeneaProtector
Originally Created by: Scott McManimen
Record added: Sep 07, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21421394
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Added: Oct. 13, 2012
Added: Apr. 20, 2011
I love you, and miss you like crazy T.J. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Wish you were here to meet your neices and nephew. Love you so much!!!|
Added: Apr. 20, 2011
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