STATE OF ILLINOIS COUNTY OF L A K E

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SS:

BEFORE THE CORONER OF LAKE COUNTY IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUEST ON THE BODY OF CHRISTINA J. PRATT, Deceased.
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REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS had before James Wipper, Chief Deputy Coroner for the County o f Lake and State of Illinois, on October 29, 1992, A.D., at the Lake County Building, Tenth Floor Assembly Room, Waukegan, Illinois, commencing at the hour of 11:50 o'clock a.m., pursuant to notice.

JURORS : Robert A. Vinnedge Sharon 0 . Ahlemeyer Joseph J. Contrera Dean J. Jordan Sandra J. Niemietz Alvera M. Shelton

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THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

Ladies and

gentlemen of the jury, witnesses, and others present, this is an inquest into the manner and cause of death of Christina J. Pratt, age 18, late of 17479 Dartmoor Avenue, Grayslake, Illinois, who was the victim/driver of a single-vehicular incident that occurred on September 7th, 1992, at 12:45 a.m. on Route 43 at intersection with Route 41 in Park City, Lake County, Illinois. The victim was transported to St. Therese

Medical Center, Waukegan, in Lake County, ~ l l i n o i s , where she was pronounced dead in the emergency room a t 1:57 a.m. on September 7th, 1992, by Dr. Savage, emergency room physician. The victim was then

transported to the Lake County Coroner's Facility, Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois, for further examination. I'm going to ask the following people to please stand where they are and ra.ise their right hand. James Leding and Roger Barrette. (Witnesses sworn. 1 THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: I'm going to ask

Officer Leding to step forward and please have a seat to my left. For the benefit of the jury, a diagram

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has been passed out for your reference. I'm also going to ask if there are any family members to please remain seated and identify yourself. MS. SPIZZIRRI: mother of Christina. I'm Carol Spizzirri. I am t.he

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:
MR. PRATT: Christina's father.

All right.

I'm Gordon Pratt and I am

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THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: attorneys present? If so -Yes.

Are there any

MR. GARRIGAN:

Counsel for Mrs.

Spizzirri, Michael S. Garrigan, G-a-r-r-i-g-a-n THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: much. Let me remind you that this is neither a civil nor a criminal trial procedure, merely an inquest into the manner and cause of the death of this young woman. J A M E S L E D I N G , Thank you very

called as a witness herein by the Coroner, having heen first duly sworn, took the stand and testified as follows, to-wit:

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E X A M l N A T l O M

by the Chief Deputy Coroner:

Q.

Would you please state your name, age, and

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occupation, please.
A.

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Yes.

My name is James Leding, L-e-d-i-n-g, 30

years old.

I am a patrolman for the City of Park City.

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Q.

Officer Leding, did you and members of the

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Park City Police Department investigate a single-vehicular incident that occurred on September 7th, 1992, at 12:45 a.m. on Route 43 at intersection with Route 41 in Park City, Lake County, Illinois? A. Yes, I did. Would you please tell the ladies and gentlemen

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Q.

of the jury what your investi.gation disclosed.
A.

Upon our arrival we found one single female She was laying in the

white victim from this accident,

northbound lanes of Route 41 right at the merge' from Route 43. We requested a rescue for her and I began

the accident investigation.
We viewed the scene and what appeared

happened was the vehicle was traveling northbound on Route 43, right tires went up onto the raised curbing on the right side of the - - right side of the road right at the merge, at which time the vehicle came

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down, crossed over the merging lane onto the gravel section. After this had occurred the vehicle went into

a broad slide and began to roll.
52.

Officer, I'm going to stop you for one second, Could you

The jurors have a copy of the diagram. possibly refer to it? letters there,
A.

Because I see you've got some

Sure.
That might be of help to the jury.

Q.

A.

Okay.

What I am referring to, when the

vehicle went up onto the curbing would be letters "A" and "B" on the right-hand side of the diagram. The

vehicle then crossed over the merging lane to letters

"D" and "C" where it went off the road and began to go
into a broad slide where it ended at Point G . vehicle then began to roll. would be letter "H." From what we believe the vehicle rolled at least two to three times during whi-ch time we believe the victim was ejected from the vehicle where she came to rest on the roadway and the vehicle t,hen continued off onto the grassy center median. The

The first mark of the roll

Q.

From the -- maybe if I could clarify this a The vehicle was traveling

little bit for the jury.

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northboun.d, went off on the right-hand side, "A" and l1B"? A. Correct. Then crossed back over to "C" and "D"? Correct. Okay. Can you tell us approximately from,

QA.

Q.

let's say, distance - - the length of distance from "A" t.o "S"? Is that -- "S" would be the final resting spot

of the vehicle?

A.
feet.

Correct.

If -- it would be approximately 4 0 0

Q.

Okay.

In your -- through your

investigation -- I don't know if this would be pertaining to you or maybe Deputy Barrette, but during your investigation were you able to determine an approximate speed? A. NO, we were not. Okay. Okay. You can continue then.

Q. A.

Excuse me.

We then began the investigation of

the vehicle, normal search to make sure there were no other victims in the vehicle, which there were not. noted at the time that there was an extremely strong odor of an alcoholic beverage inside the vehicle. also noticed there were several unopened beer cans We

We

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inside the vehicle and an empty case along the same brand of beer of the cans that were in the vehicle. Also, the stereo in the vehicle was turned up almost to full volume.

I myself had to turn it off to hear when

I initially got to the scene. After that we photographed and measured the scene, went to St. Therese Hospital, and we spoke to the doctor on duty who advised us that she had been pronounced dead at St. Therese Hospital from major internal injuries and head injuries.

Q.

Basicall,y, at the time -- at the time you

arrived -- first of all, how did you get the initial call?
A.

How was your department notified? We were notified by telephone. I'm not sure

exactly who the caller was.

We were advised of an

accident with unknown injuries on northbound Route 41 in front of Marquardt Olds, which is the same general vicinity .

Q.

Okay,

Were you able to speak with any

witnesses to the accident? A. There was one subject who was on the scene. All

He stated t h a t . h e did not see the entire accident.

he did was saw the vehicle come to rest. and he found the victim on the roadway. He saw the vehicle rolling

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to a stop into the grassy median and found the person on the roadway.

Q.

Did he state to you where he was coming from?

What direction? A. No, he did not. Okay. When you arrived, was he the only

Q.

individual on the scene or were there others? A. There were numerous other motorists that had

seen the body on the roadway and had stopped to offer assistance. There was one other subject who stated to

me that he did witness the accident, but prior to my being able to talk to him, he did leave the scene. never gave a name or anything like that or a vehicle description.
Q.

He

Okay.

So at this point in time, you did not

actually talk to a witness who basically saw the entire accident?
A.

Correct. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: I'm going to excuse

you for the time being.

If you can remain seated here.

Let me ask Deputy Barrette to step forward.

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R O G E R

B A R R E T T E ,

called as a witness herein by the Coroner, having been first duly sworn, took the stand and testified as follows, to-wit:
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X A M L N A T L O N

by the Chief Deputy Coroner:
Q.

If you could please state your name, age, and

occupation, please. A. Yes. Roger Barrette, age 3 0 , deputy sheriff

with Lake County Sheriff's Department.
&.

Mr. Barrette, were you and the Lake County

Sheriff's Office involved in an investigation regarding a single-vehicular incident that occurred on September 7th, 1992 at 12:45 a.m. on Route 43 at intersection with Route 41 in Park City, Lake County, Illinois? A.
Q.

Yes, we were. For the benefit of the ladies and gentlemen of

the jury, could you please advise them what your investigation disclosed.
A.

Yes.

1 was mainly called to the scene to

assist Officer Leding in this accident.

I got there.

I spoke to Officer Leding.

He went through the

accident scene with me and asked if 1 would phot-ograph

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it.

My main concern was that to photograph the

accident, which I did do while Officer Leding performed his investigation. Once that was completed Officer Leding then came up to me and told me his opinion on how the accident happened, which has been related to you, and it was - - it was also consistent with the facts on the -- that were left on the road; that this is the way the accident happened. And it was about that time that

I then went to St. Therese Hospital, also.
Q.

Okay.

Basically, from -- as Officer Leding

had testified, the vehicle from the time it left the roadway until the time it came to rest traveled approximately 400 feet. A.
&.

Would you concur with that?

Yes. Okay. And in your background, is it possible

to give an estimate of a possible speed at that time?
A.

Yes, it is. Okay. Do you have any opinions based upon the

Q.

physical evidence on the speed that the vehicle may have been traveling prior to the accident? A. Such an opinion would require that I do an

accident reconstruction in this and which I did not do. However, based on my experience I would not say that it

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would be in the realm of a high rate of speed; that it would be consistent with a 50, 55 miles an hour speed on her part. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: could refer this to Officer Leding. limit in that area? OFFICER LEDING: That I'm not sure. We did Okay. Maybe if 1

What was the speed

mark it down in the field notes.

I'm not sure if it It is

was transferred over to the original report. marked as a slower area because of the merge. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: be Okay.

Would that

-- Deputy Barrette feels that the speed of the
Do you feel that that

vehicle may have been 50 to 55.

merge would have been a lesser speed? OFFICER LEDING: Yes, I do. Okay. Officer

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

Leding, also, could you tell us what the weather and road conditions were at that time? OFFICER LEDING: If I could refer to my

accident report for a moment. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: OFFICER LEDING: time. clear. Yes.

It was clear and dry at this The weather was

The roadway surface was dry. Nothing that would

-- there was no materials on

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the roadway that would be a detriment. to driving at the time. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: Okay. Ladies and

gentlemen of the jury, do you have any questions of these witnesses? A JUROR: coming from? DEPUTY BARRETTE: Yes. We did a background, The Does anybody know where she was

I spoke to several witnesses in regards to this.

evening, as far as we could trace it back, started around 8:00, 8 : 3 0 that evening when she met with a bunch of friends in Gurnee. From there she went back She was alone at the

to her house with her friends.

house at this time.

Her mother and other children

which she lived with had gone on vacation in Florida. While there they -- I believe they had a party where they did consume alcohol. This was

evidenced by open beer cans, bagfuls of beer cans, other stuff like munchies, box cases, and stuff that were all stacked on the back deck of the house as well as a stereo that was out in the deck. So there was

evidence that there had been some type of a party. Whether it's large or small, I don't know. At approximately a little before midnight

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the party or the people departed the house and went to the Avalon restaurant. They all sat down. They were

given menus, and it was about quarter after midnight then Christina stood up and said to the -- said to her friends I'm going to go out for a drive. She then got

up, went into her car, and that was the last they seen her, and the accident happened approximately half hour later.

I believe she told her friends, also,
that she was going to be back in about a half hour, which is possibly where she may have been heading to at the time. I believe -- I've learned through talking to

some people that she had just started to -- was able to start driving this vehicle legally, and I would say it wouldn't be out of the realm that she was just driving around maybe just to be driving around enjoying the night, enjoying music, everything else like that. I

don't think she had a specific destination in mind and none that our investigation revealed either. A JUROR: Is that intersection lighted? D o you want to answer? No, it's not. It's just a

DEPUTY BARRETTE: OFFICER LEDING: simple merge.

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

What would have

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it have been heavy traffic or do you know?

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OFFICER LEDING:

At that -- usually at that

time on a Sunday night it's usually medium traffic. It's not real heavy; it's not real light. You get

mainly the travelers are heading home from the weekend, heading either back into Milwaukee or the Wisconsin area or heading back into Chicago, in that area. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: This w a s like a

Sunday night/Monday morning type thing? OFFICER LEDING: DEPUTY BARRETTE: Correct. I have some pictures if

you'd like to distribute them. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: Sure.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do you have any other questions? (No response.) THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: of you. I'll excuse the two

If you'd please remain in the room in case

there are any further questions. I have one further question before you leave. Officer Leding testified to the fact in his that based upon his investigation

I opinion he believes
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the vehicle rolled approximately two to three times.

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Do you concur with that? opinions, Deputy Barrette? DEPUTY BARRETTE: consistent with that.

Do you have any different

No.

That would be

That's about the rate the

vehicle will roll is about that many times. problem with that. A JUROR: Can I ask a question?

I have no

I see a mark

here on the road in your picture. the roll marks of the car? DEPUTY BARRETTE: vehicle.

Would that be one of

That mark was caused by the

When it started to come onto the road from While it

the ditch, it started to travel broadside.

started to travel broadside, the tire is still rotating. side slip.
As well as rotating, it's starting to also

When it does that, it leaves those Right about where they

customary marks in the roadway.

end then is the -- is the point then where the vehicle probably was tripped up and started its roll.

A JUROR:

Okay.

Thank you.

And that would

correspond with his mark then on his map at what point? OFFICER LEDING:
A JUROR:

"E," the letter "E."

Those are what those little lines

indicate? OFFICER LEDING: Correct.

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A JUROR:

Okay. Okay. I'll excuse

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: you for the time being. Thank you.

I will then give the Coroner's report. On September 7th at 2:18 a.m. I was notified by St. Therese Hospital of the death of Christina Pratt in their emergency room.

I arrived at three o'clock a.m.

and was met by Officer Leding and Deputy Barrette who basically related to me the circumstances they have related to you. Part of our investigation was to do a toxicological analysis. Prior to that as during

treatment in the hospital, a blood alcohol level was performed by St. Therese Hospital, and their testing shows that at the time that Christina was in the emergency room she had a blood al.coho1 of a -176 percent. We did some further testing on specimens that we obtained and we tested for ethanol, barbiturates, stimulants, and for tranquilizers, and w e found that during our testing Christina had a blood alcohol of .I63 percent. The difference i n those

levels would be from the treatment that she received being J V fluids, blood transfusion, things of that

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nature, which would tend to dilu.te her blood and cause us to get a lower blood alcohol level. In the State of Illinois, the legal limit
of intoxication for a driver in the state is .I00

percent.

At the time of the accident Christina was

legally intoxicated. During my examination I found that she sustained a lot of damage to the Left side, particularly her upper shoulder area, upper a r m , forearm area. She sustained a very extensive injury to She also sustained a

that portion of her body.

depressed skull fracture to the back part of her head, Due to these injuries it is the opinion of the Lake County Coroner's Office that Christina came to her death as a result of multiple traumatic injuries due to blunt force trauma due to the single vehicle roll-over. It is hard to - - during the investi.gation it was found that Christina was not wearing a seat belt, and due to the vehicle rolling over it's hard to determice exactly how her injuries came about. At. what

point did she come out of the vehicle, it's difficult to determine that. But we have some factors fl~rethat, she had had the vehicle for about a week so she was

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somewhat unfamiliar with the vehicle. alcohol level.

She had a blood

As Officer Ledi-ng testified, that the So we can't rule out

radio was, you know, very l.oud.

the fact that she may have been trying to adjust the radio in some way. At this point because there are no

witnesses we cannot rule out that possibly an animal. could have been involved. So there are some things

that unfortunately without any clear-cut witnesses that we'll never have answers to. Do the ladies and gentlemen of the jury have any questions? (No response.) THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: PIr. Garrigan, do you have anything? MR. GARRIGAN: Barrette.
TS

Mrs. Spizzirri or

I have a question for Qfficer

there anything based on your

investigation which would rule out - - categoricall-y rule out the possibility of M i s ; Pratt hitting another

car, a collision with another car? DEPUTY BARRETTE: Yes. Yes, there ii .

MR. GARRIGAN:

What is that? It's clear-cut that no other If an impact

DEPUTY BARRETTE:

impact occurred with another vehicle.

would have occurred with another vehicle, w e w u u i d

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expect different areas of damage, and the areas of damage that we looked at on the vehicle was the right front sustained some damage. That was primarily the

only area that sustained any damage. This damage was very consistent with a vehicle roll-over, and since the vehicle was first tripped up led by the driver's side, a vehicle doesn't roll. nicely as a pencil or something round.
A

vehicle

is tripped up so it would go into the air and most likely land on the driver's side. When it landed on

the driver's side, it did this damage to the roof and to the vehicle. The direction of force was examined under this area, and it showed that it would be consistent with a downward type of a force being exerted on the vehicle whereas if Christina would have struck another vehicle we would expect then a force to be applied rearward on this vehicle. There was no force component

that was observed in the damage result that would support that kind of a force being exerted. Therefore,

it was ruled out then that she struck anything else. Also, the marks that we observed on the west shoulder of the road, being the yaw mark into the gravel, was consistent with a vehicle that is basically

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broad sliding and is going into a yaw.

So i t is

possible that she could have struck another vehicle and rotated around like that, but what we would expect then would not be a yaw mark. We would expect more of a

mark that we would refer to as radius gyration; in other words, that that vehicle is now rotating around the damage centroid of where it hit another vehicle. So its radius would be a lot, lot sharper. This was not a sharp radius.
This was

very gradual and pretty straight, straightforward. anything along that line would be ruled out about anything of her striking another vehicle either from

So

the front and again there was no damage observed in the back so we know she wasn't rear ended or pushed off the road.
MR. GARRIGAN:

Officer Leding, at the time of

the accident, did you speak to any witnesses at that time who basically observed another damaged car; more specifically, a black Cadillac with driver's side damage?
O F F I C E R LEDING: MR. GARRIGAN:

No, I did not.
I have no further questions. I would like to ask Officer

MS. SPIZZJRRI:

Leding about the truck that was there with the

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spotlight.
OFFICER LEDING: MS. SPIZZIRRI:

Yes, ma'am. Yes. What about the truck

that was there that had two people in it that swear that there was a truck there that left the scene?
OFFICER LEDING:

Yes, ma'am.

There was a

pickup truck from another subject who had stopped to assist. Correct.
MS. SPIZZIRRI: I would like t o know why he

didn't question this gentleman because he had been there for some time. Even at the time that the

ambulance was taking my daughter, he -- that truck was still there.
OFFICER LEDING:

Yes, ma'am.

If you remember

my testimony, I did speak with one subject who was there. That was the subject who saw the vehicle coming

to a rest in the grassy median that did not see the complete accident.
MS. SPIZZIRRI:

No, sir.

You had said that

the person that assisted

--

that came up, that person

i.s from Kenosha, and he assisted in Christina's first aid treatment, and you didn't even ask him any questions, Why didn't you ask him questions?
A l l you

told him was leave her alone; she's dead anyhow.

That

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is what - - that's what he said. OFFICER LEDING: him. No, ma'am. Ma'am, I spoke to

He was the witness that told me that he did not

see the complete accident. MS. SPIZZIRRI: OFFICER LEDING: That.'s correct, That he saw the vehicle

rolling to a stop and saw the victim laying in the road.way.

MS. SPIZZIRRI:
not have a pickup truck.

That is correct.

Bu.t he did

The truck that I am t.alking

about was up the road a bit, and this gentleman that came out of that truck had a spotlight which was witnessed by the man who gave Christina first aid from Kenosha and also a gentleman who lives across the street who witnessed the accident and who had called your department on a couple occasions and nobody asked - - asked him to come in and give any testiwr1on.y. I'd like to know why all the witnesses that were at the scene were not questioned, not one, even when they came to you and assisted - - wanted to give you some information. OFFICER. LEDING: what I don't remember,
1

Ma'am, I can't testify on

DEPUTY BARRETTE:

If you will, when I gat

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there, there was basically, I think, three people there. A gentleman in an 18-wheeler who had parked

down the road, there was a black gentleman there who was in the pickup truck, and there was the white gentleman who was in another smaller vehicle, were the three people that were present. them were spoken to. The gentleman in the 18-wheeler was - - I believe had a flashlight in his hand. the road. Me was parked up He These

A l l three of

He said he did not witness the accident. The other

came much more time after everybody else.

two people had arrived there and basically blocked the road for the victim who was laying in the road. other two witnesses there heard him state this conversation that occurred. truck was then released. The gentleman who was the first one there who rendered first aid to the victim we did get his name and his name is in the report. him. We did speak to The gentleman and the semi The

That is the gentleman that did not witness the

accident but seen the accident go into the -- into the ditch. The black gentleman, he said he came after - -

after the white guy and he did not see the accident at all. All three of these people were spoken to at the

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scene.

MS. SPIZZIRRI:

At the time that I spoke with

the witness that administered first aid to Christina at the scene, he had witnessed a truck and another vehicle ahead of him. That's why he stopped because he didn't

know what had happened and he came closing up on these vehicles that had stopped. He said at the time he came

up to Christina's body or her other -- her being on the road there were at least five to six people standing there around her, and he started administering first aid to her.

I asked him when he did - - when did
Officer Leding get there, and he had indicated that it was several minutes before he had gotten there, and I said, well, what did he do at the time he had gotten there, and he said he stood there and he waited until the ambulance came. And I said did he help you in

assisting in first aid.

He said no, in fact, what he

told me to do is step back away from the body; she's dead anyway. And he said that he had told you -- a n d

he'll swear to it -- that as long as this child has a heartbeat, a pulse, and she's breathing normally there's always hope. And you said you have seen enough
He

accidents to realize that she would be dead anyway.

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continued his first aid treatment. DEPUTY BARRETTE: to us at the scene. That is not what he related

He related to us at the scene that He said he

he was pretty much the first one there.

rolled the victim over, saw that she was breathing, and he did not supply her with m0ut.h to mouth nor did he supply her with CPR, but basically left her on her side and comforted her at that point. No first aid was issued by myself or Officer Leding as we are not trained nor certified in first aid. Anything that we may do to that person to

render first aid may be more harmful than it would be good. As such, we leave that to the professionals who
So it

respond to the field and render the first aid.

then becomes not our responsibility of rendering first aid. MS. SPIZZIRRI: DEPUTY BARRETTE: That's correct. I don't believe that Officer

Leding nor did myself ever tell this person that we believed this person is dead because we viewed a lot of accidents. I just think that something -He did not indicate you. He

MS. SPIZZIRRI:

indicated Officer Leding, who was the first person on the scene prior to you coming to the scene. That is

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what he had indicated.

He also said that Christina had He stuck his two

stopped breathing momentarily.

fingers down her throat to clear out the passage, and at that time the blood started coming from her mouth. DEPUTY BARRETTE: MS. SPIZZIRRI: her own again. DEPUTY BARRETTE: died. Then again, she could have That Yes, and likewise -And she started breathing on

She could have aspirated on her own blood.
$

could have been more harmful than good. MS. SPIZZIRRI: At the time the paramedics got Not until

to her, she was still breathing on her own. en route to the hospital did she have a DEPUTY BARRETTE:

--

It is apparent that anything

we did at the scene or anything that this witness may have done at the scene was helpful for her. There

wasn't nothing more I could have done or Officer Leding could have done or anybody else could have done. MS. SPIZZIRRI: to Officer Leding. I'm directing this basically

I want to know why he did what he

did and told this witness that he should let her alone. I also would like to know why the Lake County - - I'm of the understanding that Lake County Sheriff's Department have been trained in first aid and

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in Park City have been trained in first aid.

Some sort

of pressure applied to the areas that she was bleeding profusely on her arm would have caused some stoppage of flow of the blood that she could have used for the rest of her body. If you are bleeding from two areas, say

if you have a pressure point to stop the flow of blood at another pressure point, you are bleeding to death basically. I don't think that much care was given to the patient. I think more care was contributed to the Yes,

open cans of alcohol which 3 checked out myself.

I agree the car did reek of alcohol, but I also under my investigation noticed that the cans of beer that were unopened in the car were punctured which would have released the alcohol beverage into the car and the car floor.

I also noted a lot of other things as to
how her arm could have been torn because the car window had not been totally down and the glass was still halfway up into the grooves of the window, So I could I

understand how that - - I do have nursing background. can handle a lot of things like this, and even though it's my daughter, I still have my faculties. As a stander-by and officer of -- that

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does t-his type of

-- or supposed to be doing this type

of procedure not to offer a person who is on his way home from Illinois some assistance and support, I can't understand that, though. DEPUTY BARRETTE: have a question for you. By the same token, ma'am, I Why is it that your

18-year-old daughter was driving around with twice the legal intoxication limit while you're in Florida and having a party at. her house? MR. GARRIGAN: That's beyond the scope. called for. Come on. Let me get to the I object to the question. That's personal. That's not

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: issue here.

Officer Leding, are you trained as a

paramedic or EMT? OFFICER LEDING: No, I am not. Do you have

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

-- are

you certified in any type of first aid at all? OFFICER LEDING: No, I am not. Okay.

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: would answer that question.

I think that

Now, as far as the witness, we're taking someone's statement to you, Mrs. Spizzirri, and he also made a statement to the police officers, and obviously,

LI&L REPORTING SERVICE

WAUKEGAN, 11-1 ( 7 0 8 ) 6 2 3 - 7 5 8 0

we are looking at two different statements. witness is not here to make that statement.

Now, that In the People

course of invest-igation things can be changed.

say things to different people because - - whether or not they intend them or whatever.

I have found that

very common during, you know, my years of experience in investigating situations like this. Now, whether or not, you know, what he told the police officers or what he told you, it's hard to say, you know, which story is true. You know, if

anything was - - you know, did he inflate any of the testimony? It's hard to say. But both officers have

testified that they did speak with this wi.tness, and his name is on the report. Now, why, you know, what he

told you and what he told the police officers, you know, I can't -- you know, we can't, you know, say, you know, actually which is true or what was actually saidSo I have to treat that a s hearsay, you know, right now. MS. SPIZZIRRI: I would like to answer this

officer from Lake County who asked me why I was in Florida while my daughter was driving around with alcohol in her. As a parent, as -- I don't know if any

of you are, but I have two other daughters, and I think

29

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I have the right once i.n ten years to go with my other
daughters to Florida. And my other daughter,

Christina, had to work and go to school, and that is the reason I was separated from her. your question. If that answers

I hope it never happens to you. No, it doesn't answer my

DEPUTY BARRETTE: question.

I hope it doesn't happen to me either. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: I'm going to now

excuse the questions by Mr. Garrigan and Mrs. Spizzirri and I'm going to give Mr. Pratt an opportunity -- do you have any questions, sir, or - -

MR. PRATT:

Yes, sir.

I think I can clarify

quite a few misconceptions here that are being stated, and first off, I'd like to tell the jury that I'm very impressed with the way Lake County afficials have taken care of the whole situation. have had all police reports. I am her father, and I I've done my own

investigation like any father or family member would do, and I am completely 100 percent satisfied with everybody's actions involved here. And I would also like to state because I'm from Wisconsin and I had the misconception as probably most Wisconsinite people do that they think

(

that people from Illinois are all cold and calloused

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and non-caring.

I found the complete opposite with Every official has been kind,

everybody down here.

courteous, and professional, and I was very impressed with everybody down here. And in getting to -- in getting to Officer Roger Barrette's question, it is a very good question. It is a legitimate question, and I have much

evidence to present that Mr. Roger - - Officer Roger Barrette of the Lake County Sheriff's Department had all the right in the world to ask Mrs. Spizzirri the question what was she doing in Florida with the rest of her family when she had a child that just turned 18 and was given free run of the home, whom was told by me -and it is 100 percent documented and i,t is documented with a transcript -- a transcript -- excuse me - - a n d a tape that I have furnished to coroner - - Mr. Wipper, and he had -- that was a transcript and a tape of incoming calls to my phone number on the night my daughter died. I had Officer Roger Barrette call me, I had a family friend call me, and Milwaukee Police Department called me. And why it was recorded is

because I have an answering machine at my place, and on that particular night I didn't get up when the phone

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WAUKEGAM, IL

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rang because my answering machine is set at night -sometimes I set it that it answers my phone either

within one ring or two so that I am not bothered with
getting up. And that is why I -- I had a tape of that

complete conversation and the incoming calls to me. See, that would -- that tape can always be viewed by - that is in the file, right, Mr. Wipper? THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: That's-correct, After the

Let me just clarify Mr. Pratt's statement.

death occurred I met with Officer Barrette and Officer Leding at the emergency room. One of our jobs -- one

of our tasks at that point is to try to notify the next of kin. We had no family members at the hospital at that time. We were able to track down a neighbor of

Christina Pratt who gave us the information that Mrs. Spizzirri was on vacation in Florida, but could not furnish us with an address or telephone number. she was able to provide us with Mr. Pratt's phone number in Milwaukee so Mr. Pratt was actually the first relative that we could notify, and in fact, we had Milwaukee police go to his residence to notify him in person; and even prior to the police coming to his door, he bad already received a phone call from Mrs. But

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Spizzirri in Florida. some other friends.

She had already been notified by

After the incident occurred, you know, there were a lot of young kids that were informed of it and word got around very fast. So even before we were

able to obtain the whereabouts of Mrs. Spizzirri in Florida she was notified via telephone by a friend. MR. PRATT: And if I could ask you a question,

Mr. Wipper, on that tape which my wife was -- my

ex-wife -- excuse me -- was on that tape, Mrs. Spizzirri, and of course, everybody has got very heavy emotions at a time like this, and so we overlook things t.hat are said or not said. Rut my memory doesn't fail

me in the fact that - - I ' m only asking you to concur that this was said by Mrs. Spizzirri on the tape. She yelled at me accusing me that it was my fault because I bought my daughter, Christina, the car. She also stated in a screaming voice that - - she

yelled over and over I told you our daughter was an alcoholic. I told you she had a drinking problem. You

never listened to me.

You always think your daughter Well, now, your

can do whatever she wants to do. daughter is dead.

So now, here is a woman that is now

yelling at me and stating a fact that she has to1.J

L & L REPORTING SERVICE

WAUKEGAN, 11.1 ( 7 0 8 ) 6 2 3 - 7 5 8 0

me

-- past tense

- - that my daughter has a drinking

problem. alcoholic.

She has stated that my daughter is an Those were her words. So why does a loving mot-her leave a child

at home for the first time in her life to have complete run of a home that is known to be supposedly - - I will get into this -- but supposedly an alcoholic.

I don't

know this at firsthand knowledge because I have not been with my child. My children, all minor children, I was

were stolen from me from the state of Wisconsin. divorced.

I divorced Mrs. Spizzirri in 1981.

My

children became a ward of the State of Wisconsin and, therefore -- and T have all documentation which just at this time -THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: could - - if you could a lot of time. MR. PRATT: Mr. Pratt, if you

-- you know, we don't really have

I just want to put it up there.
I object to this testimony. If you have

MR. GARRIGAN:

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: anything more relevant to add MR. PRATT:

--

Yes, I do. Okay.

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

MR. PRATT:

If I could put some things on that

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blackboard there. MR. GARRIGAN:

I object to his testimony.

It's hearsay and it's detrimental to my client,
MR. PRATT: hearsay. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: What I will do I This is court documents. It's not

is - - I don't wan.t to take any of the jury's time. ca'n let them look at it during cleliheration. have it available for them. We can

Whatever you would like to

leave, we can have it available for them during their deliberation.

MR. PR.ATT:

Okay.

That is fair. Okay. Is there

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

anything -- you know, whatever you'd like to leave, that's fine. Is there anything else - - I want to try

to be fair and give everyone equal amount of time, but we are kind of limited here. you would like to add? MR. PRATT: I would like to add that when you So is there anything else

do deliberate, my daughter was a very positive girl. But when you see some of the stuff that I leave behind here, you will find out that she is a child who went through hell so that she could get to heaven. You used

the word "blunt trauma" that made my daughter finally

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demise.

My daughter has had blunt trauma her entire

life since the day I divorced Mrs, Spizzirri.

MR. GARRIGAN:
is hearsay. This is

Again, I object.

Again, this

-There's

MR. PR.ATT: This is not hearsay. doctor's evidence,

Her nose was broken twice, once by

her stepfather and once by Mrs. Spizzirri, and that is legally recorded that the nose was repaired twice; that the child has been abused, child abuse for her whole life, and you are not going to object. THE CHIEF DEPUTY COROMER: MR. PRATT: I'm sorry. Mr. Pratt, please.

I'm sorry. Okay.

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: MR. PRATT:

I'm sorry.
Is that all?

THE CHIEF DEPUTY COROMER: MR. PRATT: That

-You say you have

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: documentation. MR. PRATT: Yes.

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

Like I say, we will

have that available for the jury so they will have the opportunity to look at that. Did you have a question, sir? A JUROR: It wasn't a question.

T t was just a

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( 7 0 8 ) 623-7580

/

statement.

I think it is a matter of taking something

that's probably painful to a lot of people and using

I

this forum as a way to air out grievances.

The fact is

t.hat your daughter passed away and I don't think there is anybody in this courtroom that wanted t.hat t-o happen.

I don't think your ex-wife or anybody else

feels that this was something that was mean.t to happen. It was an accident and nobody intended it to happen, and I think the fact that the past that you're bringing up and differences that you're airing out with your wife don't belong here. regards to that. THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: Thank you. That's all I'm going to say in

Mr. Pratt, I'm going to --

I
much.

MR. PRATT:

Sure, I understand. Thank you very

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, then

1
1 I

this will conclude the evidence available in this inquest. It will now be your duty to deliberate your

findings and, if possible, arrive at. a verdict as to the cause of death, whether you deem i.t to be accidental, suicidal, homicidal, whether or not blame should be placed on the part of anyone concerned. When

37

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you have reached a verdict, report to me, Chief Deputy Coroner of Lake County, State of Illinois. I will ask the jury to please remain in this room and deliberate i-n private,

I will have to

ask everyone else to please leave the room. (Jury retires.! THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: Ladies and

gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict? THE JURY: Yes, we have. I'll read the

THE CHIEF DEPUTY COR.ONER: verdict of the jury. It states:

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XERILLC-T
We, the undersigned Jurors, sworn to inquire into the death of Christina Jean Pratt, on oath, do find that she came to her death on

I
I

September 7th, 1.992, at 1:57 a.m. at St. Therese Medical Center Emergency Roam, Waukegan, in Lake County, Illinois. We find that her death was due to

multiple traumatic injuries due to blunt force trauma which was a result of a single-vehicle roll-over that

I

occurred on September 7th, 1992, at 12:45 a.m. on Route 43 at intersection with Route 41 in park City, Lake County, Illinois. From the evidence presented we,

the Jury, believe that the manner of her death to be

I
additional members of the jury.

(Signed by six Jurors.) THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER: This verdict is

signed by Sharon 0 . Ahlemeyer, foreman, and five

Is this your true and final verdict?

THE JURY:

Yes, it is. Then this will

THE CHIEF DEPUTY CORONER:

I

conclude the inquest into the manner and cause of death of Christina Jean Pratt, Thank you.

I
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STATE OF ILLINOIS COUNTY OF L A R E

)

SS:
)

I , LINDA M. GIUSEFFI, do hereby certify that I am a Certified Shorthand Reporter doing business in the County of Lake and State of Illinois; that I reported the foregoing Report of Proceedings in shorthand; and that the foregoing is a t.rue and correct

1

transcript of my shorthand notes so taken as aforesaid.

Notary Public, Lakg County, IL

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WAUKEGAM, I L

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BARBARA E. RICHARDSON
CORONER OF LAKE COUNTY

STATE OF ILLINOIS
COUNTY OF LAKE

}
*

VERDICT FORM
ss.

An I n q u i s i t i o n was t a k e n f o r t h e People o f t h e S t a t e of I l l i n o i s ,
at. i n s a i d County o f
A. D . ,

fl
LAKE

i n t h e Town of

Wadceqan
day o f

,
me,

on t h e

29th
RICHARDSON

October

19

92

, before

BARBARA E.

Coroner, i n and f o r s a i d county,

upon view o f t h e body o f

Christina Pratt

t h e n and t h e r e l y i n g dead, upon t h e o a t h s o f s i x g o o d l a w f u l men of t h e s a i d county, who b e i n g d u l y sworn t o i n q u i r e on t h e p a r t o f t h e People o f t h e S t a t e o f I l l i n o i s , i n t o a l l circumstances a t t e n d i n g t h e death of s a i d and by
r?at~nn PraPt

. .

whom t h e same was produced, and i n what manner and when and where t h e s a i d came t o

C h r i s t i n a Pratt

her

death.

. . rrstana P r a t t
came t o

We, t h e u n d e r s i g n e d , J u r o r s sworn t o i n q u i r e i n t o t h e d e a t h of on o a t h do f i n d t h a t she br d e a t h by RIUlti~le t?ZmKBtic injuries due to blunt force tlrauUB

which was a result of a -la r n l w e r thAt.MTsnlrrar? m -. r 7. 1992 at 12:45 a m on Rt. 43 at intersection with R t . 41 in Park City, L a k e ..
19

From the evidence ~resented~ t h e i u r y believe t h a t the xnannar of her we
to

.

I n t e s t i m o n y whereof, t h e s a i d Coroner and J u r y o f t h e i n q u e s t have h e r e u n t o s e t t h e i r hands on t h e day and y e a r

................ J 7 LWLr,/L .\)=.:~.?y.{. ....................

............................
D e ~ u t vCoroner

BARBARA E. RICHARDSON
CORONER OF LAKE COUNTY NAME OF DECEASED
PRATT

CORONER S CASE NO. BOOK NO.
CHRISTINA FIRST

yA -0 7 -$3 35'
41
2

JEAN

LAST DATE OF DEATH: September 7) 1992

MIDDLE

DATE OF BIRTH: August 6 ) 1974 AGE: 1~

INQUEST HELD AT Lake County Courthousel 10th FLoor, Ilsserribly Room ON THE 29th JURY NAMES: DAY OF

, 19 92

SANDRA J NIEHIETZ .

DEAN J. JORDAN

WITNESSES :

NAME -

ADDRESS

OCCUPATION
police Officer
Depputy Sheriff

James Ledinat Park City Police Dent. Rwer Barrette, Lhke County Sheriff's Dept~t

James Wipper, Lake County Coroner's Office,

Deputy Coroner

DISPOSITION OF BODY: BURIAL
AT
~nmnrial. i.-er

XX
IL

CREMATION

-PERVIT

#

DATE

Sept. 10, 1992

FUNERAL HOME Marsh Funeral H W r 305 Cemetery Rd-I Gurnee, I L 60031 DESCRIPTION OF DECEASED (IF NAME IS UNKNOWN):

TYPE OF DEATH: NATURAL ACCIDENTAL X HOMICIDE FIRE DROWNING SHOOTING -> (MOTOR VEHICLE XX (INDUSTRIAL OTHER Sinqle vehicle rollover

-

-

-

SUICIDE

1

VERDICT O JURY F

the undersigned jurors sworn
Christina Jean Pratt she

inquire i n t o the death on oath do find that

came t o

her

death on September 7 1 1992

at

1:57 A.M.

a t St. Therese Medical Center Emergency Room, Waukeganl W find that e
her

in Lake County, I l l i n o i s .

death was

due t o multiple traumatic injuries due to blunt force trauma which was a r e s u l t of

~1 : ~ O C ~ \ < e j j

c1 e

, \ 1c ,

J~w--

From the evidence presented, we the jury believe t h a t the manner of
her

death t o be

U ('C f (,a t[L-,/ &/ (accidental, homicide, suicide, natural causes, undetermined)

.....................
(optional addition f o r r e c m e n d a t i o n s from t h e jury)

I t i s our opinion t h a t

Foreman

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