Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 4 years, 7 months, 14 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Detective Bureau
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile
Age at Time of Death: 38
Date of Birth: 17 Nov 1908
Date of Appointment: 16 May 1942
Date of Incident: 29 Dec 1946
End of Watch: 29 Dec 1946
Date of Interment: 02 Jan 1947
Cemetery: Cedar Park Cemetery - Calumet Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-2
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 19
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 4, Line 50
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3-E: 19
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Detective Erwin Carl Rach, Star # Unknown, aged 38 years, was a 4 year, 7 month, 14 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Detective Bureau.
On December 29, 1946, at 3:00 a.m., Detective MacLeay and his partners, Detectives Erwin C. Rach and Raymond T. O’Hara were transporting a prisoner, Earvlee Sullivan, during a snowstorm, to the Detective Bureau. As they were driving on the 2900 block of South State Street their squad car was struck head on by another car. That car was driven by John Trencan, age 24, who had been drinking for six hours before colliding with the detective’s squad car. Trencan’s car had skidded on the icy pavement and veered into oncoming traffic striking the Detectives’ squad car. Detectives MacLeay and Rach were killed instantly, Detective O’Hara and Mr. Sullivan survived the crash.
John Trencan was heading home with two companions after celebrating the delivery of his new car with a six hour drinking spree at six different taverns. The widows of Detectives MacLeay and Rach filed lawsuits after the crash demanding $75,000 in damages from the taverns and $10,000 each from Trencan. In September of 1948 a settlement of $75,000 was reached. The widows of the two deceased detectives each received $24,000, Detective O’Hara received $24,000.00 and Sullivan received $3,000.00. The defendants in the suit included John Trencan and the six taverns: Club Mars, 11338 South Michigan Avenue; Club Rond-E-Voo, 100 West State Street, Calumet City; 8 Ball Tavern, 17249 South Halsted Street; Pink Poodle, 502 South State Street; Trocadero, 525 South State Street and Mildred’s Tavern, 716 South State Street. The widows were able to sue the tavern owners under the Dram Shop Act which allows legal action against the seller of alcoholic beverages when an injury or death occurs as a result of intoxication.
Detective Rach was waked at William Bartz & Son Funeral Home located at 7032 South Wentworth Avenue. His funeral mass was held at Immanuel Evangelical Church located at 7000 South Michigan Avenue. He was laid to rest on January 2, 1947 in Cedar Park Cemetery, 12540 South Halsted Street, Calumet Park, Illinois.
Detective Erwin Carl Rach, born November 17, 1908, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on May 16, 1942. He earned 1 Credible Mention and 1 Extra Compensation for Meritorious Conduct totaling $120.00 during his career.
Detective Rach was survived by his wife, Ella (nee Kelter), age 46; children: Arthur, Edward and Shirley Haddock; mother, Hermina (nee Hitzke) and siblings: Charles, Elda Lindmark, Emma Smools, Frank, William and the late Walter. He was preceded in death by his brother, Walter.
On February 20, 2008, Officer Rach’s star was retired by Superintendent Jody P. Weis and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.