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Passengers sue Park Ridge for 2015 police chase

William Kivit | Cook County sheriff's office

Two passengers in a car that crashed after the driver tried to speed away from Park Ridge police last year are suing the northwest suburb for misconduct.

Daniel Kowalyk and Jennifer Newberry filed the lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Thursday, naming both the city of Park Ridge and the officer who was pursuing their vehicle as defendants.

Kowalyk, who was 20 at the time, and Newberry, who was 18, were passengers in a 1996 Chevrolet driven by 20-year-old William Kivit on June 3, 2015, according to the suit and Park Ridge police at the time.

Kivit was speeding in the 1300 block of West Higgins when an officer on patrol in the area began to follow the car without activating the patrol car’s lights or siren, according to the suit.

The suit alleges that the patrol car reached 86 mph as the officer continued to pursue Kivit’s car right on Dee Street. By the time the officer turned on his lights and siren, the chase had reached 100 mph as the two headed eastbound on Devon Street.

Kivit then ran a red light and his car hit a 2014 Audi headed northbound on Cumberland Street before hitting a pole, according to the suit and police.

Kowalyk and Newberry were ejected from the car and taken in critical condition to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, police said at the time. Kivit was also taken to Lutheran General and released days later.

The driver of the Audi, a 24-year-old Park Ridge woman, was taken to Resurrection Medical Center with injures that were not life threatening and later released, police said.

The two-count suit asks for at least $100,000 and claims Kivit was distracted once the officer turned on the car’s siren and that the city is responsible for the officer’s misconduct during the pursuit.

A representative from Park Ridge could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Kivit, of the 400 block of South Northwest Highway in Park Ridge, was charged a month later with three counts of aggravated reckless driving and one count of aggravated fleeing and eluding, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty March 18 and was sentenced to 30 months of probation.