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Killed trying to help person in road


Darrin Hanna

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Updated: January 22, 2013 10:47PM

A northwest suburban woman who worked at a home for the mentally challenged was fatally struck by car while trying to get a resident of the facility out of the street Monday afternoon in Aurora.

The driver of the vehicle then got out and ran from the accident scene, according to Aurora police.

Theresa M. Burns, 57, of the 700 block of South River Road, Des Plaines, was struck by a 1997 Chevrolet GEO Metro on Church Road just north of Corporate Boulevard at 5:33 p.m. Monday.

Police said they have a good idea of the driver’s identity but had not found him as of late Tuesday.

Burns was a staff member at Northern Illinois Academy, a home and school for people with psychiatric problems, at 988 Corporate Blvd.

Burns was trained in working with residents in the midst of an emotional crisis, according to her employer. She apparently was in the roadway assisting another staff member in removing an 18-year-old female student who had run from the school and was sitting in the southbound traffic lanes on Church Road, police said.

The southbound Geo Metro struck both Burns and the co-worker, a 25-year-old Plainfield man.

Burns was pronounced dead at the scene. Her injured co-worker was treated and released from an Aurora hospital. No one else was hurt in the incident, police said.

Burns and her co-worker were able to move the teen to safety before they were struck, said Ed Irby, vice chairman of Sequel Youth and Family Services, the mental health system that operates the Northern Illinois Academy.

Burns worked for the academy for about a year and was respected by residents and fellow staff, Irby said.

“She was well trained in the use of de-escalation dialogue when dealing with residents experiencing emotional crisis,” Irby said Tuesday evening. “This is a huge loss to both Theresa’s family and all of us.”

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