Former Mokena man killed in car crash while traveling to Las Vegas airport for visit to Illinois – Chicago Tribune – Car Accident
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to help the family of a former Mokena resident who was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Las Vegas allegedly caused by a drunken driver.
Stephen Palmatier, 37, was killed when a Jeep driven by Lisa Guerino went through a stop sign and struck the car he was riding in, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
The crash occurred at about 4 a.m. June 1 near the intersection of North Shaumber Road and West Centennial Parkway as the family was heading to the airport for a trip to Illinois. Guerino left the scene on foot, being found later at her home, according to the police report. She was charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving and failing to stop at the scene.
Palmatier, a 2003 graduate of Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210, died at the scene, and his wife, Kristen, and two children were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, police said.
A Go Fund Me account was set up by Palmatier’s sister, Cynthia Robertson, on behalf of Kristen Palmatier. She wrote that the family, which included Riley, 6, and Wyatt, 3, were on their way to the airport to visit family in Illinois when the accident occurred about five minutes after they left.
“Steve Palmatier was a kind person who loved to laugh,” Robertson wrote on the Go Fund Me page. “As a youth he got in trouble for laughing too much at school once for one thing, but he said he was laughing at three things and that’s why it was so funny. He loved his family, dirt bike riding, driving his truck and camping in the desert.”
Police said Kristen and Riley suffered minor injuries.
Wyatt, who received critical injuries in the crash, is improving, according to the Go Fund Me page.
“They anticipate a full recovery, however it will be a long painful process that will include a stay in a rehabilitation center,” Robertson wrote. “He will have to have physical therapy for gross and fine motor skills including sitting up on his own, walking, and feeding himself.”
Robertson said in an meail her brother was looking forward to visiting and introducing Wyatt to his family for the first time in person, as COVID-19 had delayed travel plans.
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“We had plans to visit Brookfield Zoo and the Field Museum. Steve couldn’t wait to have some of his favorite foods like Portillo’s and Home Run Inn Pizza,” she wrote. “Our tradition upon his arrival was having White Castle sliders either in the car at pickup or at home for him ready to snack.”
Robertson said her brother was a mechanical engineer with Arroweye Solutions in Las Vegas.
“He grew to really love the desert and was a dirt biking enthusiast. He made some good friends in Vegas through his biking adventures, loved smoking meat with his new grill, and playing with the kids,” she said.
Robertson said the family is working to create more awareness of drunken driving and the effects it has on victims.
We are completely devastated and beyond belief of what has happened,” she wrote. “What we’ve lost is immeasurable. His children have lost the most and are so young, it’s unbelievably unfair. We are doing everything we can from afar to support his wife and children and will always be there for them.”
Another Go Fund Me page was set up by Wyatt’s preschool classmates at Seton Academy.
“We want to show the power and support of a community coming together to help a family in need. We would appreciate any support that can be given to Wyatt and his family during this difficult time,” the page said. “Wyatt was the boy in class that would greet every child and parent with a warm welcome and a hug. His positivity is contagious and we hope he can feel our love and prayers.”