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Police: Cellphone cord tangled in steering wheel a factor in fatal wreck

LindRobert Shattuck their wedding 31 years ago.  |  Supplied photo

Linda and Robert Shattuck, at their wedding 31 years ago. | Supplied photo

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Updated: September 17, 2013 8:19AM



His wife of 31 years was killed in a car accident involving unusual circumstances, but Robert Shattuck is not bitter or angry.

The driver of a car that crashed into the Shattucks’ sport utility vehicle apparently became distracted and lost control after a cellphone-charging cord became entangled with the steering wheel, Crestwood police said Thursday.

The accident happened Aug. 8 in the 13900 block of South Cicero Avenue. Injuries suffered in the crash led to the death of Linda Shattuck, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. She died Monday, according to Robert Shattuck.

“It’s an accident. Accidents happen,” Shattuck said Thursday as he talked about Linda at their home in the 14700 block of South Lavergne Avenue in Midlothian, just a little over a mile from the crash site.

“This just proves to me that her heart was worse than we thought,” Shattuck said, alluding to his wife’s history of heart problems.

At first, Shattuck didn’t know their SUV had been hit.

“We were driving around and I heard a noise, and I thought, ‘There’s an accident behind me.’ All of a sudden, I felt like an airplane pilot going up and over on the side,” Shattuck said. “It was a bang.”

Shattuck said the other car, a Ford Taurus, was driving south and turned into the Shattucks’ Chevrolet Equinox, striking it in the rear passenger door.

Linda Shattuck was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle, which was northbound on Cicero when the Taurus collided with it about 4:45 p.m., Crestwood Police Detective Chris Soderlund said. The Taurus driver apparently became distracted after a cellphone cord became tangled in the steering wheel, Soderlund said.

Police cited the driver for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, improper lane usage, and driving an uninsured motor vehicle, Soderlund said. The name of the driver has not been released. Crestwood police continue to investigate.

Linda Shattuck first was taken to MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island and later transferred to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, where she died, according to police and the medical examiner’s office.

Robert and his son, Todd, both suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from Palos Community Hospital in Palos Heights.

No funeral is planned, Shattuck said.

“We used to have a lot of family in the area and now there’s just us,” Shattuck said, nodding toward Todd.

Robert and Linda met on a blind date before the holidays in 1981, when he was working for Electro-Motive in Countryside.

“They were having a Christmas party and I didn’t have a date. A friend said, ‘I know somebody you can take,’ ” he said.

His friend had good taste in women, Robert said.

“Oh, yeah, she was pretty. We started dating right away and got married after about six months,” he said.

They celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary on July 31.

Linda grew up in Midlothian and graduated from Bremen High School. Robert, a Cicero native, graduated from Morton East High School.

Linda did not work outside the home. Robert is retired.

Todd said his mother “had an outgoing personality” and “is in a better place.”



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