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Beverly youth dies after Fourth of July beating at Indiana beach


Kevin Kennelly

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Updated: January 23, 2012 2:52AM

Indiana authorities were asking the public for help in tracking down a Chicago man wanted in the death of a Beverly teenager, who died Wednesday from injuries suffered during a Fourth of July beach brawl.

Police were searching for James Malecek, 19, of Chicago, who is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated battery stemming from the death of Chicago resident Kevin Kennelly. The 17-year-old Kennelly was a varsity soccer and baseball player at Mount Carmel High School and the son of a Chicago firefighter.

“He was adored by his parents, absolutely adored,” neighbor Stephanie Colson said. “His parents would do anything for him and I’m not just saying that. It’s the way it is.”

The fight took place at a beach in Long Beach, Ind., known as Stop 26, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Sulkowski said in a press release. Police arrived at the beach shortly before midnight Monday, where they found Kennelly on the ground unconscious and surrounded by several people, Sulkowski said.

Kennelly had intervened in a fight at the beach police said. Kennelly, of the 9900 block of South Damen Avenue, was brought to a local hospital in Michigan City, Ind., for treatment. But his injuries were severe and he was flown overnight to Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point, where he died less than 48 hours later.

An autopsy is to be held today.

Evergreen Park resident Alexis Herrera remembered Kevin as a good kid and a joker who made people laugh.

Her 17-year-old son, Alex, played baseball with Kevin at Mount Carmel High School, and they were close friends.

“He was always the first kid my son would call,” she said. “He was always there for him.”

An arrest warrant has been issued for Malecek, of Chicago, in connection with Kennelly’s death. Malecek was charged with felony aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter and battery Wednesday morning, LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary said.

A $25,000 cash bond was attached to Malecek’s warrant, which was approved by Judge Steven King, Neary said. Malecek would have to post that amount if he is arrested.

Anyone with information is asked to call (219) 874-4243.

During Malecek’s warrant hearing, Sulkowski testified Malacek hit Kennelly in the head during the fight.

A phone call to the Kennelly home was not returned Wednesday.

“His parents are devastated,” Colson said. “It’s a senseless tragedy.”

Colson said Kennelly was a dedicated fan of the Blackhawks and White Sox. He played soccer and baseball at Mount Carmel, 6410 S. Dante Ave., where he would have been a senior this coming school year.

Kennelly’s death is the third to hit the school’s baseball program in the past two years.

Assistant coach Tony Morsovillo died in December after losing a battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Player Stevie Bajenski died in August 2009 following complications from heart surgery before his senior year.

Kennelly’s father, also named Kevin, is a Chicago firefighter who survived a fall in a burning building in 2009.

Kennelly graduated from St. Barnabas Grade School. He and his family are parishioners at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Beverly, where a prayer service was held Tuesday night, the Rev. William Malloy said.

“About 500 people were here for a prayer service. He was well-liked, absolutely, and he’s a leader with many, many friends. Most of the 500 were young people. It was a beautiful ceremony,” Malloy said.

The Mount Carmel lacrosse team posted a request for prayers on its Facebook page even though Kennelly was not a member of the team.

“We support everybody in our Mount Carmel family,” lacrosse coach David Ho said. “Our prayers and thoughts are with (the Kennelly family).”

Prayers were said Wednesday morning during a service at the high school, said the Rev. Tony Mazurkiewicz, the president of Mount Carmel.

The school’s football, soccer and baseball teams were present along with the Kennelly family and friends, he said.

“Kevin was a wonderful young man, a gift to his family and to the school community,” Mazurkiewicz said.

Contributing: Casey Toner, Phil Arvia, Ken Fryer and Tony Baranek

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