Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 5 years, 3 months, 15 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 1st District - Central
District of Incident (Present Day): 001 - Central
Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile (Pursuit)
Age at Time of Death: 24
Date of Birth: 10 May 1949
Date of Appointment: 23 Dec 1968
Date of Incident: 001 - Central
End of Watch: 08 Apr 1974
Date of Interment: 11 Apr 1974
Cemetery: St. Mary Catholic Cemetery - Evergreen Park, Illinois
Grave Location: Lot Center of 1762, Block --, Section AM
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 6
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 28
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 23-W: 17
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: Unknown
Incident & Biographic Details
Patrolman William “Billy” S. Bodnar, Jr., Star #14642, aged 24 years, was a 5 year, 3 month, 15 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 1st District – Central.
On April 8, 1974, at 5:55 a.m., Patrolmen William S. Bodnar and Thomas A. Wodarczyk were working the first watch on beat 107. While on patrol they initiated a vehicle pursuit of a stolen white 1964 Oldsmobile traveling Westbound on Van Buren Street from State Street. For 3 minutes and 20 seconds, beat 107 was reporting on the progress of the pursuit and relaying the license number of the car being pursued. Officer Bodnar was driving as Officer Wodarczyk updated the dispatch center. Suddenly the radio traffic from beat 107 went silent and they were not responding. At 5:43 a.m., another officer called in for emergency equipment to be sent to Van Buren and Morgan Streets. The stolen vehicle had sideswiped a produce truck, driven by Frank Scimica of 1462 West Erie Street, causing it to crash into the beat car and fall on top of it, pinning the officers inside. As a result both officers sustained serious injuries. Officers Bodnar and Wodarczyk were both transported to Illinois Research Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival by at 6:09 a.m. on April 8, 1974.
The truck driver, Frank Scimica, was northbound on Morgan Street, proceeding through the green light. His view of the oncoming squad car was partially blocked by an eight-story building on the Southeast corner of the intersection. The stolen vehicle was later found abandoned a short distance from the crash and the driver was never apprehended.
Officer Bodnar was waked at Lain & Son Chapel located at 2121 West 95th Street. His funeral mass was held at Our Lady Hungary Catholic Church located at 9237 South Avalon Avenue. He was laid to rest on April 11, 1974 in St. Mary Catholic Cemetery, 3801 West 87th Street, Evergreen Park, Illinois. His grave is located in Lot Center of 1762, Block –, Section AM.
Patrolman William S. Bodnar, Jr., born May 10, 1949, received his Appointment as a Cadet to the Chicago Police Department on December 23, 1968. He received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on January 14, 1971. Officer Bodnar earned 11 Honorable Mentions during his career.
Officer Bodnar was a member of the Chicago Patrolmen’s Association and the St. Jude Police League. He was survived by his wife, Gloria Ann (nee Laninga); children: Wendy Sue, age 5 and William Paul, age 2 and parents: Helen Marie (nee Gasik) and William S., Sr. (CPD).
Incident Recorded Under Chicago Police Department RD #P802615.
On June 27, 2007, Officer Bodnar’s star was retired by Superintendent Philip J. Cline and enshrined in the Superintendent’s Honored Star Case, located in the lobby at Chicago Police Headquarters, 3510 South Michigan Avenue.