Off-duty Chicago cop killed in high-speed crash after fleeing traffic stop

Officer Jose Castro was ejected from the SUV and transported to a hospital, where he died


By Clare Proctor
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — An off-duty Chicago police officer died and his passenger was injured after his car drove off the road in Arlington Heights, struck a pole and tumbled “end over end” before landing in a backyard early Monday, police said.

About 1 a.m., the 29-year-old officer from Chicago was speeding north on Wilke Road in a black Toyota 4Runner, Arlington Heights police said in a news release. As the vehicle approached Kirchoff Road, it veered off the road and struck a utility pole, flipped over and ultimately landed in the backyard of a home in the 600 block of South Reuter Drive, police said.

Fire and police personnel responded to the scene, where they found the 29-year-old and the 33-year-old male passenger outside the vehicle, police said. The driver was taken to Lutheran General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, and the passenger was taken to Northwest Community Hospital and later released.

The driver was identified by the Cook County medical examiner’s office Monday afternoon as Jose L. Castro. Chicago police said he had been with the department four years.

Before the crash, just 2 miles away, an on-duty Rolling Meadows officer saw the 4Runner speeding down Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights police said. The Rolling Meadows officer tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the off-duty Chicago police officer fled and crossed into Arlington Heights jurisdiction, so the Rolling Meadows officer did not pursue the 4Runner.

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said at a news conference that when Arlington Heights police pass along details about the ongoing investigation to Chicago police, they will be made public.

”As we all know this happened in an off-duty capacity,” Brown said. “We don’t fully know the circumstances. Our condolences go out to the family of this officer, obviously.”

The medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy on the driver Tuesday, police said. While speed was “clearly a factor” in why the vehicle crashed, police said “impairment was also suspected, but not confirmed.”

Northbound Wilke and westbound Kirchoff Road were closed for investigation after the crash, police said.

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©2021 Chicago Tribune. Visit chicagotribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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