Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Lincoln Park Police Department
Served: 8 years*
Unit of Assignment / Detail: Motorcycle Division
District of Incident (Present Day): 019 - Town Hall
Cause of Death: Crash - Motorcycle (Pursuit)
Age at Time of Death: 41
Date of Birth: 18 May 1876
Date of Appointment: 23 Mar 1905
Date of Incident: 07 May 1917
End of Watch: 07 May 1917
Date of Interment: 10 May 1917
Cemetery: St. Lucas Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # B-4
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 4
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 1, Line 50
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 37-E: 10
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman John L. Donner, Star #125, aged 41 years, was an 8 year veteran of the Lincoln Park Police Department, assigned to the Motorcycle Division.
On May 7, 1917, in the late evening, Officer Donner was attempting to pull over a speeding motorist on Southbound Sheridan Road when he collided with another vehicle at Sunnyside Avenue. As he was pursuing the speeder, a Southbound bus blocked his path. In an attempt to overtake the bus, Officer Donner moved into the northbound lane. At the time Officer Donner was traveling at approximately 60 mph and had no time to break or swerve to avoid colliding with the vehicle. He crashed head on with the vehicle and was thrown from the motorcycle slamming into the car. Upon impact he fractured his skull and was killed instantly. The vehicle, which was driven by George E. Orr of 4046 West Racine Avenue, a general manager for the National Security Company located at 10 South LaSalle Street, was hidden from Officer Donner’s view by the bus. In the car with Mr. Orr was James J. Hirsch.
Officer Donner was waked at his residence located at 2661 North Marshfield Avenue. He was laid to rest on May 10, 1917 in St. Lucas Cemetery, 5300 North Pulaski Road, Chicago, Illinois.
Patrolman John L. Donner, born on May 18, 1875, received his Probationary Appointment to the Lincoln Park Police Department in 1909.
Officer Donner was survived by his wife, Mary (nee Wielbinski); son, Henry S.; father, William S. and siblings: Frank, Louis, Hattie Tuscany, Jennie and Mrs. Ida Reichrath.
Chicago Police Department homicide file not found for this incident.
The Lincoln Park Police Department, in the City of Chicago, was disbanded on April 30, 1934. On May 1, 1934, the remaining officers were transferred to the Chicago Park District Police Department, which was organized on the same date. Three park district police departments, Lincoln, West, and South were consolidated into the Chicago Park District Police Department. Fallen officers of the Lincoln Park Police Department are currently honored on the memorial wall of the Chicago Police Department as Chicago Police Officers. Their stars are displayed in the Honored Star Case located in the lobby of the Chicago Police Department at 3510 South Michigan Avenue.