Karen Wasko

Karen Wasko

Summit Trustee Karen Wasko killed in head-on crash

Spread the love
dvn summit villlage hall bunting scaled e1679608470128

Purple bunting in honor of Trustee Karen Wasko surrounds the front door at the Strzelczyk Municipal Center in Summit. (Photo for the Desplaines Valley News by Mike Kaput)

By Bob Bong and Carol McGowan

Summit Trustee Karen Wasko was killed Friday night when the car she was traveling in was struck head on by another car at 64th Street and Harlem Avenue in Bedford Park.

Her husband, Robert Wasko, was badly injured in the crash and was in critical condition but improving at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and had undergone at least two surgeries.

Joel Velazco Jr., 23, of Oak Lawn, has been charged with drunken driving in connection with the fatal collision, according to a news release from the Bedford Park Police Department.

The Waskos were headed home after helping celebrate the 75th anniversary of Mama Luigi’s restaurant in Bridgeview when they were struck by a 2012 Audi allegedly driven by Velazco.

dvn wasko flowers tight crop

Flowers were placed on the podium in front of karen Wasko’s seat in Summit Village Hall before Monday night’s village board meeting. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

Police said they received a call about the crash at 10:52 p.m. Friday night.

Police said a witness reported the Audi was speeding in the southbound lanes of Harlem before it crossed the center median and went into the northbound lanes where it ran into a 2012 Buick being driven by the Waskos.

The Bedford Park Fire Department responded to the accident and transported the four people involved to area hospitals. Firefighters from Bridgeview, Summit and Roberts Park assisted Bedford Park.

Karen was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where she succumbed to her injuries.

Velazco has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol, improper lane usage, driving in the wrong lane, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and providing no valid proof of insurance.

Bail was originally set at $250,000 but he is now being held without bail. He’s on electronic monitoring while being treated in the hospital for injuries he suffered in the crash. His next court date is set for April 13.

Karen and Bobby are lifelong residents of Summit.

Karen Wasko, 74, had been a Summit village trustee since 2014 and was seeking re-election in the April 4 municipal election. Prior to that, she was on the school board for Argo Community High School.

Karen spent 12 years working in the Argo High School human resources office. Before that she spent 10 years at Natural Gas Pipeline Company and 10 years with the McCook Police Department.

Robert Wasko is a former chief of the Summit Fire Department and had also worked part-time with the Summit Police Department.

Karen’s death hit her fellow elected officials in Summit hard.

“The sudden loss of Trustee Wasko is difficult for me to grasp,” said Mayor Sergio Rodriguez. “She was a lifelong resident of Summit, raised her family here, and was a huge supporter of the Fire and Police Departments. It is an understatement to say she loved our community.

“Karen started on the board just as I was just appointed mayor.  Although we faced difficult times, we were able to overcome adversity and accomplish many things. I have been blessed to have her by my side and she will be dearly missed.

“I ask everyone to keep her husband Bobby, her two daughters, Nicole and Kelly and her mother and the family in our prayers.”

“She was a great person,” said Trustee Sam Dardovski. “Like I, she lived in Summit all her life and really cared about our community.  She was on top of her game in every way with living and loving life. She was always very proud of her daughters and husband. She took care of her mother, and loved her so. She was always active and supportive of the fire department and police department.

“At the last Summit Neighborhood Watch meeting, she joined the Argo-Summit Lions Club as new members were needed to keep the club going.  Karen was just a wonderful person to work with, and was at every meeting. We are all physically stunned and hurting from this.  It will be awkward without her.”

“She was much more than just a fellow trustee,” said Trustee Aleco Julius. “My wife and I are going to miss you very much. Love you, Karen.  Rest in peace, my friend.”

“I am so hurt, that I can hardly find the words to express the profound loss of Karen Wasko to our Village Board,” said Trustee Marvel Parker. “During my 25 years at the village, I have lost all of those that were dear to me.  We were a team, she cannot be replaced.”

Officials in neighboring communities were also shocked by her death.

“I’d like to have a moment of silence for Karen Wasko, trustee from the village of Summit who passed away in a fatal car accident Friday night,” Mayor Terrance Carr said as Monday night’s meeting began this week.

“Also for her husband, keep him in your prayers. Bob Wasko was the fire chief in Summit, a policeman at one time. He’s not doing too well. Had a couple of surgeries today,” Carr said.

After the meeting, Carr recalled Wasko.

“I always liked Karen. You knew where you stood with Karen. Whether you liked it or not, you knew where you stood. She never held back,” Carr said with a smile.

“When I got this job, (Karen told me) ‘Hey (deleted), don’t (mess) up like the last boss did over there.’ That’s what she told me JC’s Pub. I’ll never forget that day,” Carr said with a laugh.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

4 Comments

  1. Richard Paulson on March 23, 2023 at 6:14 pm

    Wonderful people even though we grew apart over the years they always had time for me I stood up for their wedding If you were fortunate enough to be part of their life you were one lucky person God took wonderful person it’s a shame Karen’s not with us



  2. […] Story continues […]



  3. Teri Corcoran on March 24, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    Karen was the best. We went to Mount Assisi Academy. She was always there for you and we all were there.for each other. As we pray everyday for Bob and Karen. We know she is looking down on us
    What a beautiful Angel. ❤️????



  4. Beth Whittinghill on March 27, 2023 at 8:31 pm

    God bless Karen and may she ever be at peace. My thoughts and prayers for her husband for recovery. For her daughters I pray for peace and healing.



Local News

the leadershop logo

LeaderShop Alumni Association to host peaceful rally during Thursday board meeting

Spread the love

Spread the loveThe LeaderShop Alumni Association, a group of volunteers, previous staff members, former board members, funders, donors, and stakeholders who are community minded and energized by the mission of The LeaderShop, will host a peaceful rally in support of change to current leadership for the nonprofit agency. The rally will be held during The…

The Mariano’s store in Frankfort would be among the stores transferred to a new owner if the Kroger-Albertson’s merger is approved. (Photo by Bob Bong)

Comings & Goings: Palos Jewel, Oak Lawn Mariano’s to be sold in merger deal

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Kroger and Albertson’s this week released the list of stores the companies plan to sell, should a merger between the grocery giants be approved by regulators. Jewel Food Stores in Alsip and Palos Heights are among the stores listed for sale as well as Mariano’s locations in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, and…

Alan Morales

LeaderShop director faces more charges from former staffers

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The LaGrange-based LeaderShop, a social service agency that recently lost $300,000 in funding, is facing new charges of a toxic work environment, bullying, and inappropriate behavior by Executive Director Alan Morales. Since the story was first published in the Desplaines Valley News on June 24, at least six women have…

Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty presents a copy of the proclamation honoring the Lyons Mustangs Athletic Club for 100 years to President Gary Benedik. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Lyons Mustangs honored for 100 years of service

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch It’s not often a service organization hits 100 years. But there are not many service organizations like the Lyons Mustangs Athletic Club. “We don’t know of any other organization anywhere around here, maybe in the city of Chicago, but maybe around here that has made it 100 years. It’s quite…

Eddie Korosa will perform again at this year's Music in the Park series of concerts in Lyons. (file photo)

Lyons’ Music in the Park series starts July 10

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The popular Music in the Park series will begin a six-week run on July 10 at Veterans Park in Lyons. Bands will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. each Wednesday through Aug. 14, said Ted Tale, director of parks and recreation for the village. Each night will “feature a vendor…

mccook police star

McCook settles with former police officer

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch More than eight months after the process began, the village of McCook has reached a settlement with former police officer John Kosmowski Jr. “This will end this case for once and for all. Gets it out of our hair even though I don’t have hair,” Mayor Terrance Carr quipped during…

countryside police

Countryside police seek grants for tasers and solar-powered cameras

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The Countryside Police Department is applying for two grants that are intended to help improve safety. Police Chief Paul Klimek told the city council at its June 12 meeting that he is seeking a grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority for tasers. “The state is going to award…

The retiring owners left this message on the sign at the Saunoris Garden Center in Frankfort. (Photos by Bob Bong)

Comings & Goings: U-Haul buys Saunoris Frankfort location

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Two years after closing its Chicago Ridge location, Saunoris has closed its garden center in Frankfort. U-Haul has acquired the former garden center at 19600 S. Harlem Avenue. No price was announced, but the property had been listed for $2.5 million on real estate websites. The 6.88-acre property, now called…

Nicholas Lipinski now wears the lieutenant’s badge his father Terry, the former chief, wore for the Bridgeview Fire Department. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Son of former Bridgeview fire chief promoted to lieutenant

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch There were a few damp eyes and many big smiles at the most recent meeting of the Bridgeview Village Board. Yep, even firefighters get a bit sentimental, especially when family history is involved. The reason for the emotions was former Bridgeview Fire Chief Terry Lipinski pinned his old lieutenant’s badge…

Houston's Natalie Jacobs (left) and Red Star Ally Schlegel jostle to get to the ball on June 6 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Swanson scores again, Naeher has clean sheet as Fire edge Dash

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Mallory Swanson is Olympics-ready after scoring her fourth goal in four games. Swanson’s left-footed shot in extra time in the first half was the difference in the Chicago Red Stars’ 1-0 win over Houston on July 6 in an NWSL battle before an announced crowd of 5,566 at SeatGeek…

Neighbors

Pritzker calls SCOTUS emergency abortion ruling ‘small respite’ as state protections await his signature

Pritzker calls SCOTUS emergency abortion ruling ‘small respite’ as state protections await his signature

By ANDREW ADAMS  Capitol News Illinois aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com Abortion remains legal as an emergency medical procedure in Idaho, for now, after a Thursday U.S. Supreme Court ruling, while a bill that would cement those protections in Illinois law awaits Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature.  The 6-3 decision saw the three liberal justices concur with the order. Three…

Pritzker signs election bill to increase party power in primary elections

Pritzker signs election bill to increase party power in primary elections

By ANDREW ADAMS  Capitol News Illinois aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com Changes to primary election fundraising, the electoral college and the state’s voter registration database are now law after Gov. JB Pritzker signed a wide-ranging bill on Monday. The legislation, containing several unrelated election measures, passed near the end of the legislature’s spring session on a vote of 68-38 in…

National Committeeman Richard Porter looks ahead to GOP convention as party names new state chair

National Committeeman Richard Porter looks ahead to GOP convention as party names new state chair

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Republicans will gather in Milwaukee next week for what promises to be a historic national convention. Former President Donald Trump will be nominated for the third consecutive time as the party’s presidential nominee, the first major party candidate to win nomination that many times since Franklin…

Speaker Welch rebuffs lawsuit from would-be staff union as ‘forum shopping’

Speaker Welch rebuffs lawsuit from would-be staff union as ‘forum shopping’

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch is urging a Cook County judge to dismiss a lawsuit members of his staff filed against him last month seeking to force recognition of their union. In a new filing Monday, attorneys for Welch argued the Illinois Legislative Staff Association has no…

The U.N. calls restraint chairs torture. Illinois jails use them every day.

The U.N. calls restraint chairs torture. Illinois jails use them every day.

by GRACE HAUCK ILLINOIS ANSWERS PROJECT Warning: The following article includes mentions of self-harm and profanity. This is the first in a series of stories. McHENRY, Ill. – Vernon L. Brooks Jr. was distraught. Forced into a chair in a jail cell with a black mesh hood over his head, he panicked as he felt…

Pritzker signs health insurance reform measures

Pritzker signs health insurance reform measures

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Wednesday that puts new controls on the state’s health insurance industry, including bans on certain practices companies have used to reduce costs by controlling the amount of health care services a patient receives. The Health Care Protection Act, House Bill 5395,…

Transit heads again ask state for funding help, reject proposals for oversight reform

Transit heads again ask state for funding help, reject proposals for oversight reform

By ANDREW ADAMS Capitol News Illinois aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com CHICAGO – It was standing room only in a downtown Chicago committee hearing Tuesday as activists, transit experts and lobbyists hung on the words of the region’s transit agency chiefs.  Public transit has become an increasingly contentious issue in Chicagoland as the Regional Transportation Authority – the funding…

SCOTUS ruling could upend federal corruption cases for Madigan, allies

SCOTUS ruling could upend federal corruption cases for Madigan, allies

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowed the scope of a federal bribery law prosecutors have relied on in their cases against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and several of his allies convicted of bribing him. A jury last spring found those allies – former lobbyists and…

Former GOP state lawmaker, candidate for governor sentenced to 42 months in prison

Former GOP state lawmaker, candidate for governor sentenced to 42 months in prison

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois hmeisel@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – Former Republican State Sen. Sam McCann on Tuesday was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $700,000 in campaign funds and attempting to conceal his theft with false reports to state election authorities. In February, McCann pleaded guilty to seven counts of wire…

Menard prison staff picket, citing unsafe working conditions

Menard prison staff picket, citing unsafe working conditions

By MOLLY PARKER Capitol News Illinois   mparker@capitolnewsillinois.com Hundreds of Menard Correctional Center employees and their supporters staged a rally alongside a busy street in Chester on Monday, highlighting what they described as perilous working conditions at the state’s largest maximum-security prison.   The problems at the southern Illinois facility stem from low staffing levels, said…