Monday, February 22, 2010

Exclusive: Chicago Cop's Death on LSD Raises Big Questions

Update 2/24: Funeral Details for Sgt. Alan Haymaker Update 2/23: Who Really Killed Sgt. Alan Haymaker? Update, 2/25: Man Charged in Burglary That "Killed" Sgt. Alan Haymaker Monday, February 22, 2010 - The tragic and untimely death of Sergeant Alan Haymaker just past 5:00 a.m. today has been blamed on "icy conditions," but that - and our exclusive photos below - raise more questions. Chicago News Bench visited the crash scene, and it left us wondering if CPD is telling the whole story of what really caused the accident. Note: Our photos, below, clearly show what the other media have not shown: That Sgt. Haymaker's car was never on the exit ramp, he did not attempt to take the exit ramp, and that he transitioned over the curb from Lake Shore Drive in a straight line without a spin out. In short, Sgt. Haymaker completely missed the well-lit, well-marked, easily visible Irving Park off ramp, and instead drove straight over the curb on Lake Shore Drive (LSD). He did not lose control on the ramp - in fact, he never entered the ramp. As he jumped the curb, his car continued in a straight line, knocking down a light pole and slamming to a stop when it hit a tree. It is not known whether Sgt. Haymaker was actually trying to take the Irving Park ramp - it seems very unlikely, however, because it was many blocks north of the burglary to which he was responding. Sgt. Haymaker was still well north of where he should have been getting off, which should have at Belmont to approach the burglary at 3167 N. Clark. Belmont is 3200 north. The Irving Park exit ramp, actually at Bittersweet and Marine, is 4100 north. The public "explanation" given so far by Chicago Police Department’s Major Accidents Unit is puzzling and insufficient in light of photographs (below) taken by Chicago News Bench on Monday afternoon. The photos we have seen elsewhere, like the one here by The Chicago Tribune, do not show the tire tracks of the car as they leave LSD, go over the curb, and straight toward a tree. Our photos show that. According to CPD, Sgt. Haymaker was driving south on Lake Shore Drive as he was en route to a report of a burglary scene at 3167 N. Clark Street, several blocks west and more than 10 blocks north of the Irving Park off ramp. Lake Shore Drive is well lit. While "icy conditions" were named as a reason for the accident, visibility was not mentioned. The stretch of LSD southbound lanes is long and flat in the approach to the Irving Park off ramp, so nothing should have been obstructing Sgt. Haymaker's view of the wide and well-marked off ramp. Our questions for the Chicago Police Department:
  • There is no mention in the reports visibility being a factor in the accident; what was the ground visibility at that location at that time?
  • Was Sgt. Haymaker attempting to enter the Irving Park exit ramp?
  • How fast is it estimated that Sgt. Haymaker's car was moving when it went over the curb?
  • Even if ice was a factor in the accident this morning, why did he steer his car off of Lake Shore Drive, over the curb, and into light post and tree, with NO sign of any spin out prior to leaving the pavement of LSD?
  • Was Sgt. Haymaker's blood tested for drugs and for alcohol?
  • Is CPD saying that Streets and Sanitation had not salted LSD and all off ramps by the beginning of the morning rush hour? Is CPD saying that a major road (LSD) was icy more than eight hours after the snow storm began?
  • Is it CPD's policy that officers drive at very high speeds to a burglarly at a retail address at 5:00 a.m., when there is no threat to life at the burglary scene?
  • The car seems to have spun after leaving LSD and before striking the light pole; had it continued straight it would probably have missed the pole as indicated by the tire tracks still clearly visible in the snow at 3:15 p.m. today. This indicates that the car may have fishtailed, most likely as Sgt. Haymaker tried to steer and/or brake on the slippery snow-covered grass of the median on which he suddenly found himself. Our photos below clearly show the path that Sgt. Haymaker's car took as it mysteriously went over the curb. There seems to have been no spin out prior to jumping the curb. We saw no skid marks on Lake Shore Drive anywhere near the accident scene.
    Click images to enlarge

    Photos by Tom Mannis

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