Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 32 years, 9 months, 3 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 8th District - Chicago Lawn
District of Incident (Present Day): 008 - Chicago Lawn
Location of Occurrence: 5046 South Cicero Avenue
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile (Pursuit)
Age at Time of Death: 65
Date of Birth: 20 Aug 1952
Date of Appointment: 1986
Date of Incident: 07 Jan 1997
End of Watch: 02 Nov 2017
Date of Interment: 11 May 1834
Cemetery: Good Shepard Catholic Cemetery - Orland Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Unknown
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-10
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 25
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 5, Line 26
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 7-W: 30
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrol Specialist Andre H. Van Vegten, Star #14931, aged 65 years, was a 32 year, 9 month, 3 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 8th District – Chicago Lawn.
On January 7, 1997, at 11:21 p.m., Officer Van Vegten and his partner Patrolman Matt Koman, were working beat 844. The officers were responding to a “shots fired” call at the CHA’s LeClaire Courts housing complex located at 4941 West 44th Street. While en route the officers spotted a vehicle containing four known gang members who immediately fled northbound on Cicero Avenue at a high rate of speed. Before Officer Koman could radio in the pursuit another maroon vehicle veered into their lane of traffic and struck the squad car. Officer Van Vegten was forced to take evasive action and was forced to swerve left to avoid a crash. The squad car struck the center-lane curb and crashed head on into a concrete planter located in the median in front of 5046 South Cicero Avenue. The squad car then caught fire while the officers were still inside. Two passerby, Mr. Valdemar Delgado and Ben Howard, an off duty Cook County Sheriff Corrections Officer, observed the crash occur and pulled over to assist. Officer Howard attempted to open the squad car doors with negative results. Howard then returned to his vehicle and retrieved a crowbar in which he used to break the windows of the squad car. Mr. Delgado and Officer Howard then pulled Officer Koman out of the window and away from the vehicle. They then pulled Officer Van Vegten from the squad car just before it became fully engulfed in flames. Officer Komen was transported to Christ Hospital by CFD Ambulance #21 and was treated and released in February after his injuries were treated. Officer Van Vegten was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital by CFD Ambulance #12 in critical condition. He sustained a collapsed lung, a shattered right femur and a broken rib, which had pierced his aorta. The rapid blood loss from that injury left him paralyzed from the chest down and legally blind. After emerging from a six-week coma, the officer underwent several surgeries at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and was transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for therapy. In the following years, Officer Van Vegten suffered through numerous surgeries and continuously battled infections and wounds that required months or years to heal.
Officer Van Vegten was 44 years old at the time of the incident, would enter the Disability Pension Roll (DPR) on March 11, 1998 and later resign from the Department on August 20, 2015. He survived the crash but would suffer from years of vision loss and therapies. Every day of his life continued to be a new challenge. For the past several years of his life Officer Van Vegten had volunteered for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. Officer Van Vegten passed away on November 2, 2017, from complications resulting from his line of duty injury. On December 15, 2017, the Will County Coroner’s Office ruled that his death resulted from injuries he sustained in the crash.
Officer Van Vegten was waked at Orland Funeral Home located at 9900 West 143rd Street, Orland Park, Illinois. He was laid to rest on November 4, 2017 in Good Shepherd Catholic Cemetery, 16201 South 104th Avenue, Orland Park, Illinois.
Patrol Specialist Andre H. Van Vegten, born on August 20, 1952, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on November 17, 1986. He was certified as a Patrol Specialist in 1990.
Officer Van Vegten was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police. He was survived by his daughter, Jennifer. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department RD #B017876.
On July 17, 2018, Officer Van Vegten’s star was retired by Superintendent of Police Eddie T. Johnson and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.