Massachusetts Cop Forum banner
Not open for further replies.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts

MassCops Angel
121,497 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bob Susnjara, Staff Writer
Chicago Daily Herald

Injured Gurnee police officer Jack LeMaster has a lot of friends in his corner.

Those pals have been busy for a few weeks, assembling a bash to raise money for medical expenses that are not covered by LeMaster's insurance.

Organizers hope a minimum of 1,500 advance tickets are sold at $10 apiece for the LeMaster benefit from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday at the Antioch VFW hall, 75 W. North Ave. Tickets will be available at the door.

"I'm flattered," LeMaster said, "and I really can't believe this is happening to me."

LeMaster, 41, of Lakemoor, was struck head-on by a vehicle that crossed the center line on Route 59 in Fox Lake just before noon June 12 when he was headed to his boat on the Chain O' Lakes to meet friends. Fox Lake police said there was no way LeMaster could avoid the collision.

After the crash, LeMaster was placed in a drug-induced coma at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. He was transported to the hospital in a helicopter.

"I have come so far since that day," said LeMaster. "I was near death. I broke so many bones and had so many injuries."

LeMaster remained in the coma for about 30 days in Lutheran General's surgical intensive-care unit. He's undergone about 10 surgeries.

Dave Godlewski, a Lake County sheriff's deputy who's helping to organize the benefit, said he and others hope LeMaster can return to boating and golf, two of his favorite activities. Godlewski said he was able to retrieve LeMaster's golf clubs from the injured officer's vehicle.

"His first question when he when he came out of the coma was, 'Did you get my golf clubs,' " said an amused Godlewski.

Another pal assisting with the benefit, Gurnee police officer Bob Janusz, is just happy LeMaster appears to be pulling through a difficult time.

"It was pretty touchy there for a few days," said Janusz, who like LeMaster is a Buffalo Grove High School graduate.

LeMaster joined the Gurnee Police Department a little more than 20 years ago. He's served as a detective, patrol officer, juvenile cop, accident investigator, evidence technician and on the bicycle patrol. Janusz, a 12-year Gurnee cop, has worked on the same team as LeMaster. The men became good friends.

Godlewski and Janusz stood up in LeMaster's wedding. Friends said LeMaster is the kind of guy who would be helping to organize a benefit for them if they were in a similar position.

"He's always a very personable guy, asking how you're doing," Janusz said.

LeMaster, who has been at a Niles rehabilitation center, is expected to attend the event that'll feature three bands donating services. The $10 ticket will not only include the entertainment, but also a menu with hamburgers, bratwurst and hot dogs. "Kids can come with their parents. It's not just an adult event," Janusz said.

More money will be raised for LeMaster through raffles, beverage sales and a silent auction offering items such as Bulls tickets and a Bears autographed football.

Janusz said he hopes the event brings in $25,000 to $30,000. All of the money will go to LeMaster, his wife, Carrie, and two boys, 1-year-old Nicholas and 3-year-old Joseph.

LeMaster would like to return to his job as a cop, but that's a worry for later. For now, he's just looking ahead to Tuesday, when doctors expect to see if he can place weight on his legs and walk.

"I'm scared and nervous. ... I want to walk out of here," he said.

Janusz said LeMaster became liable for sizable medical bills because the injuries he sustained in the Fox Lake crash occurred while he was off duty.

An outpouring of help has surfaced since the LeMaster benefit became publicized. Godlewski said the kindheartedness of strangers and LeMaster's struggles have eroded his suspicious nature that developed in a 19-year law-enforcement career.

LeMaster was among 11 Gurnee officers honored for their roles in a January 2003 shootout that left a murder suspect dead and an officer wounded in the Providence Oaks subdivision near Route 120 and O'Plaine Road.
1 - 1 of 1 Posts
Not open for further replies.