Orland Hills girl beaten during abduction attempt reportedly out of hospital
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org October 30, 2013 6:52PM
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:06PM
Among the first in a line of cars waiting to pick up students Wednesday at Prairie View Middle School in Tinley Park were Jerry and Peggy Alberts, who traveled from Hickory Hills to get their 12-year-old granddaughter.
If she hadn’t stayed home from school sick, the Alberts’ granddaughter would have been with the 12-year-old girl who police say was beaten on Monday during a failed abduction attempt near her Orland Hills home. Their granddaughter usually takes the same bus and walks home with the victim, Jerry Alberts said.
Now, he said, they will be picking up their granddaughter, who is scared.
“Isn’t it awful?” Peggy Alberts said. “You can’t even let them take the bus home from school.”
Many parents — and even grandparents from a few towns away — remained concerned Wednesday about the safety of children at Prairie View Middle School in Tinley Park, and , like the Alberts, they picked up their students up rather than let them walk or take the bus.
A bus dropped the victim, a Prairie View student, near her home and she was walking home when a man first tried to get her into a vehicle and then hit her and pounded her head against a tree several times when she resisted, according to police.
The girl was released from the hospital Wednesday, according to a CBS 2 report.
Orland Hills police have asked anyone with information to call them at (708) 349-4434. Calls to see if they had any new information Wednesday were not returned.
Nevertheless, parents said the incident was “absolutely horrible” and “shocking” and most unusual in this area of Tinley Park, which once was named by BusinessWeek as one of the “Best Places in America to Raise Kids.”
Marie Witek, of Tinley Park, said her daughter did not want to go to school Wednesday, but “I told her it was safe.”
Some parents wondered why they were not informed about the incident until Tuesday afternoon, nearly 22 hours after it happened. It also had them worried about trick or treating Thursday.
“This will wake everyone up,” said Rita Lapore, a Tinley Park parent, who said her kids were scared and concerned about Halloween.
A post on the Orland Hills Police Department website included standard Halloween safety tips — including “never trick or treat alone” and “be cautious of strangers” — but it did not specifically address the incident.
“What should we be doing if we cannot trust them to walk home safely from the bus?” Joetta Ogburn said. “It is sad that our kids cannot get an education without being fearful. But it gives us something to talk to our children about.”
The incident prompted a discussion in Chris Swick’s car when he picked up his student and two others Tuesday.
“I wanted to make them aware of it and ask if they had any questions. They said they were proud of her for fighting back,” he said. He also reminded them to walk in groups, and if something similar happens, “drop your backpack and run.”
Parents also said they were praying for the young girl.
“It’s just awful,” Swick said. “I just hugged my kid when I saw him. I cannot imagine if it was my kid.”
Police said the girl was dropped off about 3:30 p.m. Monday near her home at 169th Street and 88th Avenue and noticed that someone was following her. When she tried to run, a man grabbed her and tried to pull her into a red car driven by another person, police said.
They said the girl had called 911 to report the man following her, and the call was disconnected but not before she gave a dispatcher her location.
Officers arrived to find the girl on the ground in front of her home, “extremely traumatized to the point she did not recognize or respond to her parents,” according to a statement from police.
The girl was taken to Palos Community Hospital and later transferred to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. Children’s Hospital spokesman Mike Maggio said Wednesday he could not release information about the girl because she was a minor, but CBS 2 reported she had been released and was surrounded by balloons as she got into her family’s minivan.
“She’s doing fine, and also her memory will come back to her,” her father told CBS 2. “She will have to go for two weeks for therapy. So far, the MRI says everything is good.”
Police said the girl described her assailant as a “light-skinned male in his late teens to early 20s,” wearing a black ski mask, gloves, a black jacket and tennis shoes. The driver of the vehicle also was wearing a ski mask, but no further identification was available, police said.
Nancy Miller, a neighbor of the girl, said she didn’t see anything happen to the girl but saw several police officers on her front lawn Monday and then noticed the girl was on the ground. She said she did not have children but that she was disturbed by what happened.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire, Donna Vickroy