A wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed against the Crest Hill Police Department and one of its officers in connection to a fatal accident that claimed the life of Suos Khloth of Joliet.
About a year ago, 60-year old Suos Khloth of Joliet was killed after an earlier morning high-speed chase caused his Jaguar to crash into a tree. As a result, Khloth’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Crest Hill Police Department and Crest Hill Police Officer John McHale. The family is represented by attorney Nicolette Ward of Romanucci & Blandin, a Chicago firm. But what happened, exactly? How was the crash caused?
The fatal incident happened on May 26, 2019. Khloth and his passenger, Ratanak Kong, were driving along when a “Mitsubishi fleeing from McHale rear-ended their 2001 Jaguar XJ8 along an eastbound stretch of Jefferson Street.” The collision, which happened around 1:11 a.m., caused Khloth to “lose control of his Jaguar and strike a tree.” Tragically, the crash claimed his life, but Kong survived with injuries. Khloth left behind a wife and three sons.
According to the lawsuit, Officer McHale’s negligence caused the fatal crash. It also argues that he violated “Crest Hill Police Department policies by conducting a chase while it was raining and the streets were wet, among other issues.” It turns out, he was “traveling at speeds of 91 mph as he chased after a fleeing vehicle through residential and commercial neighborhoods where the posted speed limit was 35 and 40 mph.” The suit further states, “At no time prior to these collisions did defendant McHale terminate the pursuit.”
“McHale violated the general orders of the Crest Hill Police Department, due to factors including … the high speeds of the pursuit, the lack of probable cause to believe that the pursued driver had committed offenses other than traffic violations, the violations of multiple traffic control devices by the pursued driver, the presence of other traffic on the pursuit route, the length of the pursuit and time duration of the pursuit.”
What spurred the chase in the first place? According to the suit, McHale was in the middle of an overnight patrol shift when he witnessed a “gray Mitsubishi sports utility vehicle disobey a red light while speeding at Plainfield Road and Larkin Avenue.” At first, he merely decided to follow the vehicle for a bit, but when he activated his sirens, “the Mitsubishi switched lanes and began to speed away.” The suit states, “At the time the pursuit began, Officer McHale did not suspect the driver of the Mitsubishi of any crime other than the observed traffic-related offenses.” During the chase, the driver of the Mitsubishi flew through multiple red lights until it collided with Khloth’s Jaguar.
In total, the suit details out 13 factors that indicate “McHale showed a conscious disregard for the safety of others, improperly participating in a pursuit when it was not safe to do so while chasing the stolen vehicle through multiple traffic control devices in a residential and commercial neighborhood.”
At the moment, the suit is seeking more than $50,000 in damages against Crest Hill and McHale.