Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 2 years, 4 months, 11 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 24th District - Lawndale
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Fire - Burned
Age at Time of Death: 32
Date of Birth: 01 Jun 1911
Date of Appointment: 01 Apr 1941
Date of Incident: 11 Aug 1943
End of Watch: 12 Aug 1943
Date of Interment: 14 Aug 1943
Cemetery: Resurrection Catholic Cemetery - Justice, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot 148, Block --, Section 53
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-1
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 5
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall:
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall:
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman James George Karl, Star #690, aged 32 years, was a 2 year, 4 month, 11 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 24th District – Lawndale.
On August 11, 1943, at 8:30 a.m., while on patrol, Officer Karl witnessed a traffic crash. A Phillips Petroleum Company oil truck driven by William Bradley, age 53, of 14410 Springfield Avenue, Midlothian, Illinois, attempted to avoid colliding with two cars which had previously been involved in a traffic crash. Bradley had encountered the two Eastbound automobiles which had been divereted into his lane after a minor traffic crash in the Eastbound lanes. Bradley did not see the cars under the viaduct and at the last minute attempted to swerve out of the way and lost control of the truck, crashing into a pillar of the Belt Line Viaduct at 4600 West 16th Street. Bradley. He became pinned inside the cab of the truck as gasoline leaked from the truck and pooled around the vehicle. The truck caught fire and was engulfed in flames. Officer Karl attempted to rescue Bradley from the truck before the truck exploded. Officer Karl was able to pull Bradley from the truck before the truck exploded, but both suffered fatal burns. Seventeen other bystanders also sustained injuries from the explosion. Officer Karl was taken transported to Loretto Hospital where he was pronounced dead the following day on August 12, 1943. The other injured parties were taken to Cook County Hospital, Loretto Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital and St. Anthony’s Hospital. A third man, Frank Stekly, age 48, of 6020 North Navarre Avenue, also died in Loretto Hospital from the burns he sustained in the explosion. Stekly’s cars was behind the oil truck before it crashed.
Officer Karl was waked at a chapel located at 1038 West 47th Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Gall Church located at 5511 South Sawyer Avenue. He was laid to rest on August 14, 1943 in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, 7201 Archer Avenue, Justice, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot 148, Block –, Section 53.
Patrolman James George Karl, born June 1, 1911, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on April 1, 1941.
Officer Karl was survived by his wife, Rose Marie (nee Janousek), age 31; children: Donald, age 8 and Susan and parents: Genevieve (nee Chorvatt) and James.
On November 14, 2006, Officer Karl’s star was retired by Superintendent Philip J. Cline and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.