Police unable to stop stonings on highway

October 14, 1994|By MIKE ROYKO

A few more horror stories about the teen-age morons who try to murder strangers by flinging rocks at cars on the Chicago Skyway:

Last Sunday afternoon, Ralph Rodrie, 43, of La Porte, Ind., was driving to a birthday party with his friend Linda.

"This flying object, a stone about the size of a bird, hit my windshield just to the left of my face. Smashed the glass and there were splinters everywhere, in my face, my hair, my clothes.

"They embedded in my hands and my face. I was lucky I wear glasses or they would have gone in my eye.

"If that had happened, I'd have been blinded. Then I would have probably slammed on the brakes. That would have been tragic because there was a bus loaded with kids behind me. If I braked, the bus driver might have gone out of control and we might have had kids' bodies all over the place.

"We stopped and Linda phoned 911. It was a wasted call. They said that if we didn't see who threw the rock, maybe it was just debris that fell off a truck. That was ridiculous, so they told us to call a non-emergency number to make a report.

"Why bother? When we reported it to somebody at the tollbooth, he was disgusted. He said there were as many as four incidents in one shift. He said a baby missed being killed by an inch or two. But the police don't do anything. Well, when there are dead people all over the road, maybe they'll wake up."

Mike Zelek, 33, of Bartlett, Ill.: "About a mile before I got to the tollbooth, I saw this kid about 15 come out from behind a light pole and throw something.

"It was a rock the size of a softball. Lucky for me, his aim wasn't good and the rock smashed the outside mirror on the passenger's side.

"I told the tollbooth attendant what happened and he said he'd report it. But he didn't even take my name."

Gary Baierl, 26, a graduate student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., was in his two-seat sports car with his wife when he heard a loud sound.

"I thought it was something shooting, and I just kept going because stopping didn't seem like a good idea.

"Then my wife noticed a deep mark on the back window behind her head. That's where it must have hit and made the noise. If it had gone through, it would have killed my wife. I pulled off and called the police and gave them my name and phone number. But nobody ever called back. It makes you feel defenseless and powerless."

When I wrote an earlier column about people being injured and almost killed, Chicago police vowed to pay close attention.

Now they say they have been paying close attention; the sad reality is they haven't been able to do much.

The teen-age lice are simply too alert and nimble and they scamper away before the police can jump out and get to them.

When we called the Skyway offices, an employee asked that his name not be used.

Then he said: "This is a terrible problem. I told people here just this morning that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.

"When that happens, we'll have more cops around than we know what to do with.

"We get reports of this every day. It's getting worse and worse . . . People drive up with broken windshields and tell us what happened, but we can't do anything about it. We are so frustrated.

"Please, can't you do something about it?"

Well, I'm flattered that he asked, but, no. Since I'm not the police chief, the mayor, or even an alderman, there isn't much I can do.

In our lawless society, we're on our own. I suppose I could suggest that some public-spirited citizens take it upon themselves to patrol near the Chicago Skyway, and if they see any of these teen-age vermin, jump out and fling them onto the highway.

But that wouldn't be wise because you would be arrested as a heartless fiend and the useless little thug's useless parents would sue you.

So let us wait until someone is killed or maimed. Then I can write that I told you so. And won't that make the survivors feel good?

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