By Jean Lotus
Oak Park and Forest Park police arrested four men, Thursday, after a car and foot chase that led from a Forest Park gas station to an Oak Park fast food restaurant parking lot and ended with alleged drug dealers crashing their vehicle and fleeing into Rush Oak Park Hospital.
Forest Park police first noticed a black 2012 Toyota Camry parked at Thornton's gas station, 601 N. Harlem Ave. in Forest Park, a location known for narcotic sale activity. Three passengers in the car waited in the parking lot for about five minutes without exiting or buying gas. When they pulled into the Wendy's at Harlem and Madison Street in Oak Park, an unmarked Forest Park squad car followed them, observing that the driver failed to signal before crossing a double-yellow line to turn left. Police observed another man, 18 years old, who entered the back seat of the vehicle in the Wendy's parking lot.
Police curbed the car for the traffic violation near Rush Oak Park Hospital at Wisconsin and as the driver was speaking to an officer, he attempted to grab back his I.D. from the officer's hand, dragging his arm into the vehicle. The 31-year-old Chicago man allegedly then stepped on the accelerator, dragging the officer about 5 feet. The officer released the ID and he and a partner ran to their squad car and pursued the vehicle, which ran a red light and sped into the hospital entrance at Wisconsin and into a parking lot. The driver reportedly lost control, drove onto the sidewalk and struck the side of the hospital's professional office building.
An Oak Park physician's assistant walking nearby told police she was distracted by her phone and, hearing squealing tires, looked up and jumped out of the way to avoid being struck by the Toyota.
The four occupants exited the car and three ran into the hospital, while a fourth fled into a gangway between houses along Wisconsin Avenue.
The four were arrested by Oak Park and Forest Park police. No drugs were recovered, but the 18-year-old man who had entered the car at Wendy's had two hypodermic needles in his possession. One man also had $1,250 cash on his person. He reportedly told police he was along for the ride to "make a deal" and said the men planned to sell a "jab" of heroin (12-13 prepackaged bundles).
The driver was charged with traffic violations as well as attempting to elude police and obstructing police. The other passengers were charged with attempting to elude police. The alleged drug customer was found to have an out-of-state warrant and was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.