Death Classification: Line of Duty Death

Agency: Chicago Police Department

Served: 3 years, 7 month, 27 days

Unit of Assignment / Detail: 12th District - Kensington

District of Incident (Present Day): 003 - Grand Crossing

Location of Occurrence: 

Cause of Death: Crash - Automobile

Age at Time of Death: 30


Date of Birth: 11 May 1919

Date of Appointment: 25 Mar 1946

Date of Incident: 003 - Grand Crossing

End of Watch: 21 Nov 1949

Date of Interment: 25 Nov 1949


Interment Details

 Cemetery: Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery - Chicago, Illinois
 Grave Location: Lot 76, Block 12, Section --
 Interment Disposition: Burial


Memorial Details

Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Not Enshrined

Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 20

Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 4, Line 28

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 26-W: 21

Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed



 Military Service: U.S. Army


Incident & Biographic Details

Patrolman Thomas Joseph Costello, Star #5331, aged 32 years, was a 3 year, 7 month, 27 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 12th District – Kensington.

On November 21, 1949, Officer Costello and his partner, Frank Krasula, age 36, were transporting a woman, Pauline Swarczewski, age 33 and her husband, John Swarczewski, age 35, to the hospital in a police ambulance. Mr. Swarczewski had suffered from a heart attack and was being transported to Chicago Osteopathic Hospital. Along for the ride was Fireman Walter Rucinski. While en route, the ambulance collided with a truck carrying produce at the six way intersection of 71st Street, Cottage Grove Avenue and South Chicago Avenue. After the crash Fireman Rucinski pulled everyone from the police ambulance. Officer Costello was transported to Jackson Park Hospital, dying en route, where he was pronounced dead on arrival on November 21, 1949. He died from shock and hemorrhage following the multiple fractures he sustained in the crash. Officer Krasula suffered a skull fracture and the other passengers sustained various other injuries, but they were not life threatening.

The driver of the produce truck, Russell Phillips, age 26, was charged with reckless homicide.

Officer Costello was waked at a Roger Sheehy Funeral Home located at 7605 South Halsted Street. His funeral mass was held at St. Killian Church located at 8725 South May Street. He was laid to rest on November 25, 1949 in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, 2755 West 111th Street, Chicago, Illinois. His grave is located on the South Line in Lot 76, Block 12, Section –. Officer Costello’s remains were later relocated to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, 20953 West Hoff Road, Elwood, IL, along with his wife and son, Timothy. They are buried together in Section 19, Site 1235.

Patrolman Thomas Joseph Costello, born May 11, 1917, received a Temporary Appointment, # Unknown, to Patrolman on March 25, 1946 and was issued Star # Unknown. He received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on October 6, 1947 and was issued Star #5331.

Officer Costello served in the U.S. Army, was a veteran of World War II and was Honorably Discharged. He was also a member of the St. Jude Police League. Officer Costello was survived his expectant wife, Mary Ellen (nee Geary); unborn son, Thomas; parents: Catherine (nee Griffin) and James (CPD) and sister, Rita Rosalie. He was preceded in death by his infant son, Timothy.