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Off-duty cop, landscaper chase down suspect in fatal DUI

Officer Zack CuatchAdalberAceves show where they chased caught supected drunken driver. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Officer Zack Cuatchon and Adalberto Aceves show where they chased and caught a supected drunken driver. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 3, 2011 7:18PM

A landscaper and an off-duty cop chased down a reportedly intoxicated man who fled after allegedly running over and dragging a 66-year-old insurance broker in a fatal hit-and-run in Logan Square Wednesday night.

“As soon as I saw the guy running, it just kicked in,” said 30-year-old Ogden District Police Officer Zachary Cuatchon. “I got out and gave chase. I said, ‘You’re not going anywhere,’“

Cuatchon and 39-year-old landscaper Adalberto Aceves were both on their way home from work when they helped catch the man who was later charged, Saul Chavez, 35.

Chavez, of the 3200 block of West Wilson Avenue — who also has an address in Mexico — was ordered held on $250,000 bond Friday after being charged with aggravated DUI and leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death, both felonies.

The incident occurred about 6:50 p.m. Wednesday. William McCann, 66, was crossing the street in the 2700 block of North Kedzie when a northbound 2002 Dodge Neon plowed into him.

McCann hit the car’s windshield, police said. When the driver hit the brakes, McCann fell to the ground. But the driver continued on, running over McCann and dragging him about 150 feet, police said.

McCann was pronounced dead at the scene.

Aceves, who lives about four blocks away, happened to be driving his minivan behind the Neon when it struck McCann. Aceves saw the Neon start to drive off, but did not let it get far, using his minivan to cut off the path.

“I saw that he took off, and I at least wanted to get the plate,’’ said Aceves.

At that point, the driver of the Neon got out and ran.

“I opened the door, and at that point I realized I couldn’t do anything for [McCann],” Aceves said. “I couldn’t lift the car off him, so my instinct was to catch the guy who did this.”

As he gave chase, he noticed another man running past him with the same idea — Cuatchon.

“I was coming home from work — I had a late arrest, and I was heading northbound on Kedzie when at first I saw sandals on the ground, and then the accident,” said Cuatchon, who has been on the force eight years.

“I saw a Dodge Neon with legs under the car. The car stopped and the driver gets out and started running,’’ said Cuatchon.

Yelling “Stop! Police! Stop! Police!,” the officer chased the man, who had run into a dead-end alley.

“He had his pistol and he announced he was a Chicago Police officer,’’ Aceves recounted. “I was screaming to people in the alley, ‘Stop him! He just killed a man,’ and the sad thing is they went into their garages and didn’t try to stop him.”

Cuatchon and Aceves were able to tackle Chavez, holding him while a third man ran to Cuatchon’s car to get his handcuffs.

“We grabbed the guy and put him to the ground,” Cuatchon said. “People stepped up when they needed to.”

Aceves added that he got emotional on the scene. “I haven’t been able to sleep the last two days,” he said.

“It’s etched in my mind. It’s a shame. Humans doing this to another human. If he would have stopped, the gentleman would have had a chance,” he said. “But I feel sad, you don’t feel like a hero.”

McCann, who grew up in the Burnside neighborhood on the South Side, was a White Sox and Blackhawks fan, and an “avid” bridge player who played every Monday night with the Beverly Bridge Club, according to his daughter, Nicole Goins of Hagerstowon, Md. She said her father was probably walking home from dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant, El Cid.

“The sad thing is in two weeks we were moving back to Illinois so he could spend some time with his grandchildren,” Goins said. “He was so excited. He couldn’t wait.”

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