Michael H. Michalik, 25, of the 12100 block of South 70th Court in Palos Heights, was charged with for leaving the scene of an accident and driving without insurance Sept. 9.
Police went to a vacant lot in the 10200 block of West 191st Street at 11:55 p.m. on Sept. 8 after a report of an accident, in which Michalik's black 2001 Jeep Cherokee had hit a fire hydrant and water pipe. According to the police report, there was nobody near the car when police arrived, but there were signs of recent damage to the front windshield from the inside with no airbag deployment, indicating that the driver, who had left the scene, might have sustained head injuries. Fresh tire tracks in the grass and mud led back to the parking lot of 191 South, the report stated.
Security guards at 191 South told police they saw the same vehicle in the bar's parking lot about 30 to 60 minutes before the accident and that the driver, wearing a black shirt, had been sleeping in the car with no passenger inside, the report stated.
The responding officer searched the vehicle before it was towed and impounded, finding several credit cards as well as pipe-fitter equipment and paperwork in the name of Michalik, who was not the registered owner of the car, according to the report.
A clerk at the Shell gas station at 19100 S. La Grange Road told police that a man had come into the station around midnight with a bloody, possibly broken nose, the report stated. At 1:15, the responding officer was driving westbound on 191st Street when he saw two men crossing the street and walking into the vacant lot where the accident occurred. The officer stopped them and noticed that one of them had a bloody, possibly broken nose and was wearing a black shirt. This man identified himself as Michalik, while the other man identified himself as Michalik's cousin, the report stated, adding that the men told the officer they were out for a walk.
When asked how he injured his nose, Michalik said he didn't know. When the officer asked if he had been in an accident, Michalik said no. The police report notes that Michalik appeared to be intoxicated and had the odor of alcohol on his breath. Michalik eventually told the officer he had been sleeping in the Jeep, which he had bought from the registered owner recently and failed to switch the license plates. He said he was asleep in the passenger's seat and someone he didn't know was driving the car, and all he knew was that he was woken up by several people telling him, "You gotta get out of here," according to the report.
When the officer asked again if Michalik had been driving the car, he said he didn't remember what happened and said he was dropped off at the gas station after the accident, at which point he bought some tobacco and walked to his cousin's house, the report stated.
Michalik was arrested then for leaving the scene of an accident and taken to the police headquarters for processing, while his cousin was released, according to the report.
Michalik was released on bond, and his next court date is Oct. 10.
Police report information is provided by Mokena Police. Charges are not evidence of guilt. They are a record of police actions taken on a given day, and persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. If you or a family member are charged or cited and the case is subsequently adjudicated, we encourage you to notify the editor. We will verify and report the outcome.
By Luke Wilusz