Death Classification: Line of Duty Death
Agency: Chicago Police Department
Served: 20 years, 6 months, 6 days
Unit of Assignment / Detail: 17th District - Albany Park
District of Incident (Present Day): 017 - Albany Park
Cause of Death: Struck - By Train
Age at Time of Death: 45
Date of Birth: 31 Aug 1931
Date of Appointment: 16 Sep 1956
Date of Incident: 017 - Albany Park
End of Watch: 22 Mar 1977
Date of Interment: 25 Mar 1977
Cemetery: Mount Carmel Cemetery - Hillside, Illinois
Grave Location: Grave 1, Lot 13, Block 12, Section 35
Interment Disposition: Burial
Superintendent’s Honored Star Case: Panel # D-6
Gold Star Families Memorial Wall: Panel # 15
Illinois Police Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 3, Line 32
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Wall: Panel # 41-E: 16
Officer Down Memorial Page: Listed
Military Service: No Military Record Found
Incident & Biographic Details
Sergeant Michael Rocco Palese, Star #1514, aged 45 years, was a 20 year, 6 month, 6 day veteran of the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the 17th District – Albany Park.
On March 22, 1977, Sergeant Palese was participating in an emergency plan 2 and was looking for a missing 6 year old girl during a snowstorm. At approximately 9:00 p.m., the girl’s parents notified the Chicago Police Department that their child had failed to return home from school. Sergeant Palese noticed holes in a wire fence near Kilbourn Park, a block west of the girl’s home at 3453 North Lowell Avenue. Fearing the girl may have been struck by a train, the sergeant went to investigate the area along the train tracks with Patrolman Michael Walsh. Heavy and blowing snow made visibility difficult and while searching the railroad trestle over Roscoe Street at 12:45 a.m. Sergeant Palese was struck by a passing Milwaukee Road commuter train that suddenly emerged from the darkness. The train’s engineer related to investigators that visibility was near zero and that he didn’t see the two officers until he was on top of them. He blew his air horns and Officer Walsh yelled for Sergeant Palese to get out of the way, but it was too late. Palese had tried to outrun the train while Officer Walsh jumped over a concrete wall and landed on the embankment.
The girl was located the next morning at 9:15 a.m. by Patrolman Robert Astraus, of the Albany Park Station, when she arrived for class at Scammon Elementary School located at 4201 West Henderson Street.
Sergeant Palese was waked at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Home located at 6150 North Cicero Avenue. His funeral mass was held at Our Lady of Angels Church located at 3803 West Iowa Street. He was laid to rest on March 25, 1977 in Mount Carmel Cemetery, 1400 South Wolf Road, Hillside, Illinois. His grave is located in Grave 1, Lot 13, Block 12, Section 35.
Sergeant Michael Rocco Palese, born August 31, 1931, received his Probationary Appointment to the Chicago Police Department on September 16, 1956 and was issued Star #9973. On February 24, 1960, he was issued Patrolman Star #9983. On October 13, 1961, he was reissued Patrolman Star #9973, after reporting his previous star lost. On October 16, 1961, he was reassigned Patrolman Star #9983 after it was returned. On June 11, 1975, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and issued Star #1514. He earned 48 Honorable Mentions during his career.
Sergeant Palese was a member of the Chicago Police Sergeant’s Association, Illinois Police Association and the St. Jude Police League. He was survived by his son, Robert, age 16; mother, Josephine (nee Pilas) and brother, Robert J. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Lisa, age 18 months and father, Robert J. Tragically, in December, 1964, Sergeant Palese’s son, Robert, at the age of 4, found his father’s service revolver on a kitchen shelf. He accidentally shot his baby sister, Lisa, through the head as he handled the weapon.