Vickroy: Cop thanks twins who rescued him during ‘ChiBeria’
BY DONNA VICKROY email@example.com Twitter: @dvickroy January 15, 2014 5:40PM
Tim Carney (left) and his twin brother Tom Carney (right) helped Brian McVey, an injured, off-duty Chicago police officer, during last week's snowstorm. | Supplied photo
Updated: February 17, 2014 8:37AM
As the rest of “ChiBeria” hunkered down amid subzero temperatures the night of Jan. 6, Tim and Tom Carney were doing what teenagers do all the time: heading to a local restaurant to get some food.
The twin brothers, who attend Richards High School in Oak Lawn, were accompanied by their older sister, Katie, 19, and a friend from St. Rita High School, Joe McNeill.
About 8 o’clock, as the teens turned west onto 103rd Street, they spied a car stalled near the intersection at Laramie Avenue. Despite obnoxious wind chills and snow-packed roadways, Tim said, “We just did what we always do — stopped to help.”
Little did they know the driver of that car was Brian McVey, an off-duty Chicago police officer who was seriously injured in a rollover accident last year. That horrifying crash occurred just across the street from where the brothers’ father worked at the time.
Still recovering from his injuries, McVey was en route to pick up his wife from her job at an Oak Lawn chiropractor’s office. He was wearing just a light jacket. He didn’t even have any gloves.
“I was so angry at myself for that and because I’m a guy and I couldn’t even fix my own car,” McVey said.
In late November 2012, McVey and two other officers, all members of the gang enforcement unit in the 3rd District, were responding to a report of shots fired when they swerved to avoid another car and slammed into two light poles, according to police.
Since then, McVey, who suffered a shattered hip and spent many months in a wheelchair, has had multiple surgeries, with more still to come.
That frigid night, he couldn’t even lift the hood on his car.
Lucky for him, the Carney brothers know a bit about mechanics. Working with their father, Kevin Carney Sr., is one of their favorite things to do, Tom said.
Now retired from the profession, Kevin Carney was working at a Midas right across the street from where McVey was injured.
“He told us about it (at the time),” Tom said. “It was a horrible accident.”
The twins, neither of whom was wearing a heavy coat, either, that night, quickly determined that the alternator on McVey’s Ford Escape was to blame. It had failed, causing the battery to fail and leaving McVey’s car stuck in “park.”
“We knew if we could jump the battery, we could get the car into neutral and then push it to the side of the road,” Tom said.
McVey, 36, called his wife, Laura, who then contacted a friend with jumper cables. The teens waited with McVey until she arrived and then helped jump the battery and push the car.
“It was so cold and it was so nice of them to stay with me,” McVey said, adding, “even if one of them was wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt.”
Both Tim and Tom are Packers fans. And despite the regular dose of smack they endure, they haven’t let it sour them.
The Carneys didn’t think much of the McVey rescue once they were on their way again.
“We called our dad and told him we’d just helped some guy out,” Tom said. “But we’re always calling him and telling him that. We’ve helped at least six people who were stuck at the car wash.”
One time, when a car got stuck on a curb along Cicero Avenue, Tom, who wants to be a car mechanic after high school, and his dad brought a jack and set things straight.
“This is just what we do,” said Tim, who wants to be a carpenter one day.
Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was the craziness of the circumstances, maybe it was the Oak Lawn traffic aide who kept insisting they move the car even though they couldn’t, but for some reason McVey said he failed to get the names of his rescuers.
“I only knew that they went to Richards (High School) and that they had transferred from Brother Rice,” said McVey, a Brother Rice alum. “I punched one of the kids’ phone numbers into my phone but I forgot to hit send and lost it.”
McVey, who said he daily grows more appreciative of all the help he’s received over the past year, was determined to thank the brothers in proper fashion.
On Monday, he stopped by Richards.
“It was strange to be going into a high school for a good reason,” he said. “Usually when cops go into a school, it’s a bad thing.”
He asked the security guard and a few employees but no one seemed to know offhand who these twins could be.
“That’s because they’d never been in trouble,” McVey said. “They’re good kids.”
And because the boys had transferred to Richards this school year. They made the switch, Tim said, because Brother Rice was too expensive.
Finally, staff were able to track them down, and McVey, a jokester, suggested they use a little Irish humor when pulling the boys from class.
Tom and Tim were in algebra when it was announced that “the police are here to see you.”
McVey gave the brothers each a monetary token of his appreciation. He also presented the school’s assistant principals, Meg Dunneback and Jackie DeLane, with a letter heralding the boys’ helpfulness.
“I can’t express how thankful I am for your students’ kindness and thoughtfulness,” McVey wrote. “I commend them for their character, especially in an age where most teenagers and adults would’ve kept on driving.”
Upon hearing the news, Principal John Hallberg offered to buy the brothers lunch.
Not a bad deal, considering that by the time the twins got to their intended destination that night — Buffalo Wild Wings in Chicago Ridge Mall — it was so crowded they ended up driving to WingStop on 95th Street near Western Avenue instead.