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Wheeling releases name of officer involved in fatal crash

(WHEELING) The village of Wheeling on Thursday released the name of an officer who was behind the wheel during a traffic crash that killed a pedestrian last month.

Officer Preston Robertson was westbound on McHenry Road when the police vehicle he was driving struck a pedestrian about 5:45 a.m. near Cedar Run Drive on Sept. 14, according to police and a village statement.

Fredi Morales, 20, of the 9400 block of North Terrace Place in Des Plaines, was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:26 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

In a statement Thursday, the village of Wheeling described Robertson as a 22-year veteran of the department with an “exemplary record.”

Robertson has been assigned to non-patrol light duty until an investigation by the Lake County Major Crash Assistance Team, and a review by the police department are complete, the statement said.

Authorities previously said Morales was “wearing dark clothing and running northbound across the dimly lit, five-lane section of McHenry Road when he was struck.”

However, a lawsuit filed by Morales’ family accuses the village of wrongful death, claiming the police SUV was traveling at “an unreasonably high rate of speed.”

The officer was not in a pursuit situation, and was trying to catch up with a vehicle after witnessing a traffic violation, Wheeling Police Deputy Chief Todd Wolff said previously. The officer had not activated the SUV’s flashers or sirens, he said.

“The Village of course remains sympathetic for the Morales family for this tragic accident that occurred while Officer Robertson was performing his police duties,” the statement concluded.

The family’s $100,000 lawsuit also claims emotional distress, saying Morales’ brother went to the site of the crash the next day to mourn and saw “various pieces of his brother’s body that were left to decompose on the roadway and parkway.”

The suit, filed Sept. 16, remains pending in Cook County Circuit Court.