On December 07, 2015 at approximately 2254 hours, Chicago Police Beat 726, P.O. Ryan Krolikowski #17019 and P.O. Eric Wicencyjusz #19869 observed a vehicle travelling westbound on Garfield Blvd at a high rate of speed. The speeding vehicle had lost control and crashed into a light pole violently flipping into the air finally landing on the sidewalk of 726 W. Garfield Blvd. Beat 726 arrived on scene before any fire apparatus and observed the vehicle in a crashed form with heavy smoke coming from the engine bay. They immediately requested the assistance for additional units and CFD emergency equipment via OEMC Zone 6. The following Chicago Police Department Beats arrived on scene to render aid: Beat 720 Sgt. Michael Cavanaugh #1063, Beat 787, P.O. Michael Bunyon #6190, P.O. Ivan Romo #15753, Beat 706CR, P.O. Andrew Turner #14932 and Operation Impact Beat 4155R P.O. Michael Guzman #15911.
The responding units approached the vehicle as flames and heavy smoke now entered the car’s passenger compartment. P.O. Krolikowski, P.O. Wicencyjusz, P.O. Bunyon, and P.O. Romo immediately removed the unconscious driver who had suffered a broken femur during the collision. The fire quickly accelerated, now engulfing the entire engine bay, underneath the car as well into the passenger compartment. The heavy smoke, intense heat as well as the deployed side air bags made it impossible to see if there were additional passengers still in the vehicle. Sgt. Cavanaugh instructed the officers to quickly cut the airbags and search for additional victims at which time a second unconscious victim was located in the back seat. The vehicle suffered massive damage during the collision which caused the doors to be forced shut.
Knowing that the car could possibly explode, the officers worked as a team and pulled the rear driver’s side door numerous times causing it to break from the body and the second victim was now pulled to safety. Sgt. Cavanaugh made one final attempt to feel around the passenger compartment for any other victims at which time he reached through the passenger side window and felt a head of hair. Sgt. Cavanaugh immediately alerted the other officers at which time they worked quickly to break the rear passenger side door from the frame. P.O. Bunyon reached into the vehicle and realized that the third victim was still wearing his seatbelt with his foot turned sideways under burning debris.
P.O. Krolikowski immediately reached in and cut the seatbelt from the front seat passenger. P.O. Bunyon, Sgt. Cavanaugh, P.O. Guzman and P.O. Turner reached in and pulled the unconscious victim from the front seat to the back seat. These officers working in unison dragging the victim to a safe distance away. The crashed vehicle quickly became entirely engulfed in flames and was extinguished by the Chicago Fire Department. The three victims of the vehicle crash were taken to Cook County Stroger Hospital where life saving techniques were administered. All three occupants survived with broken bones, minor burns, smoke inhalation and various internal injuries.
The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation recognizes these officers for exceeding the expectations of the public by providing exceptional service that surpasses the norm. The officer’s bravery, selflessness and dedication to public safety are what make them truly one of “Chicago’s Finest” and an example to all Law Enforcement. These officers are awarded the Officer of the Month Award for their willingness to risk their own lives in extricating and rescuing three unconscious motorists from a burning vehicle. Thank you and Job well Done!
JAMES O’LEARY HOME
The scene of the accident has a bit of history. The home at 726 West Garfield Boulevard is known as the James O’Leary home and was built in 1901. James O’Leary was a gambling king who ran a saloon across from the stock yards. He’s also the son of Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow was falsely blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire.
Sgt. Michael Cavanaugh: is a 16-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 007th District. During his police career, he has served in the 010th District, Public Transportation Section, Targeted Response Unit and Area South Saturation Team. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2014. Michael is happily married to Melissa, his wife of 11 years. He is the proud father of two children, Ellen (8) and Patrick (4). His brother, Ronald, is a highly decorated 20-year veteran of the CPD, currently assigned to the 005th District.
P.O. Ryan Krolikowski: joined the Chicago Police Department in May 0f 2013 and is currently assigned to the 007th District. He worked the “Window Detail” from October 2013 until January 2014 and also worked training cycles in the 009th District, 002nd District and 008th District. He has worked “Operation Impact” in the 006th District and has been in the 007th District since January of 2015.
P.O. Eric Wicencyjusz: joined the Chicago Police Department in May of 2013 and is currently assigned to the 007th District. He began his police career in the 004th District and has been assigned to the 006th District Foot Patrol. He has been in the 007th District since January of 2015.
P.O. Ivan Romo: has worked as a Cook County Corrections Officer and a Skokie police officer. He joined the CPD and completed training cycles in the 006th District and Operation Impact in the 015th District, 008th District and 007th District where he is currently assigned. He is also number 15 on the CPD Field Training Officer list.
P.O. Michael Bunyon: began his career with the Chicago Police Department in December of 2012. He has worked Foot Patrol and is currently assigned to the 007th District. Officer Bunyon currently holds the star number of his Uncle Jim, who retired from the CPD in November of 2014.
P.O. Andrew Turner: joined the Chicago Police Department in December of 2005. He worked in the 021st District for a short time before transferring to the 007th District. He is currently assigned to the Midnight Incident Team in the 007th District.
P.P.O. Michael Guzman: joined the Chicago Police Department in September of 2014 and is currently assigned to “Operation Impact,” Zone 6 in the 009th District.