A teen has been charged after a retired Chicago homicide detective and his son witnessed him stealing a car from a gas station Saturday morning in Hyde Park.
“I told myself, ‘I’m retired, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this kid get away’,” said Gerald Hamilton, the retired detective. “So I became unretired for a few minutes.”
It all happened around 11 a.m. in the 5100 block of South Lake Park Avenue.
The police say a teenage boy saw a late-model BMW left running and unattended at a gas station, hopped in and sped off.
The car’s 34-year-old owner gave chase, hanging from the driver’s side and pulling on the steering wheel as the teenager drove off, Officer Ana Pacheco said,
The car collided with a Mercedes Benz, sending the owner flying. He landed underneath another car, and the BMW crashed into an LA Fitness club at 5235 S. Harper.
Hamilton and his 28-year-old son saw what happened.
“It was terrible,” the retired detective said. “When the BMW collided with the Benz, it threw the owner loose. Unfortunately, nobody was looking for a grown man flying through traffic and one car couldn’t stop. That’s how the car came to a resting place on top of the man.”
Hamilton said it took “at least 10 people” to lift the vehicle and get the man out from under it.
“The crews from the 911 ambulance literally had to lift the car off of him,’ Hamilton said. “You could just see his shoes and legs hanging out underneath the car.”
When he saw the car thief jump out and start running, Hamilton said he and his 28-year-old son ran after him, tackled him and held him down in a nearby parking lot until the police arrived.
The 16-year-old boy was charged with receiving/possessing a stolen vehicle, aggravated battery causing bodily harm, and criminal damage to property, police said. His name was not released because he is charged as a juvenile.
The BMW’s owner was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition, Pacheco said.
Hamilton said he was surprised the man survived.
“The main thing to take away from this — and you see it all the time — is take that extra second and remove your keys from your car,” he said. “It was terrible. So many people saw this happen.”