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Loaned car keys lead to thefts, chase, injuries

Updated: February 12, 2013 2:40PM

ELGIN — Good intentions by a 76-year-old Elgin woman led to a crash Wednesday night that left two Elgin girls in serious to critical condition at Rockford Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

The girls, ages 14 and 13, had been reported as runaways from a Larkin Center group home for troubled youths at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, police said. They were driving a 2002 black Toyota Corolla that an Elgin resident had allowed one of the girls to borrow about 4:05 p.m. that day, police said.

According to Elgin police, the woman, who lives in the 300 block of Percy Street, reported her car stolen about 5 p.m. Tuesday. The woman said she had gone out to move her car for the city’s even/odd parking law just before 4 p.m. when one of the girls approached her, said she lived across the street and offered to move the car for her, police said.

The girl returned the keys after moving the car but later knocked on the woman’s door and asked to borrow the car to drive to the store because it was cold out, the woman said. Feeling sorry for the girl, the woman later told officers, she gave the girl the keys. When the car was not returned, she called police.

Seen in Loves Park

The car showed up again Wednesday in Loves Park, just outside of Rockford and 50 miles from where it was stolen, authorities said. According to Loves Park Deputy Police Chief Rodney Scott, the car was reported involved with a gas station drive-off theft about 1 p.m.

At 7:40 p.m. Wednesday, a patrol officer saw the car and went to follow it, Scott said. That is when the car, southbound on North Second Street — a major artery in Loves Park — ran a red light, crossed the center line, and ran head-on into a GMC Sierra pickup truck driven by Jeffery Reisetter, 51, of Machesney Park, another Rockford suburb, Scott said. Reisetter was treated at a hospital and released, but was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence at the time of the crash with a blood-alcohol content of more than .08, Scott said.

The 13-year-old was driving the stolen car, Scott said. The 14-year-old was taken by helicopter to Rockford Memorial, Scott said.

The car also had two backseat passengers, who were identified as Kyle Arrington, 20, of Rockford and Sherman Sawtell, 19, of Savannah, Ill., police said, and they also were taken to Rockford Memorial.

Between the two of them, the Larkin Center girls have generated dozens of runaway reports, according to Elgin Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault.

Because they are juveniles, the girls’ identities were not released.

Anyone with more information about the incident is asked to call Loves Park police at 815-654-5015 or Elgin police at 847-289-2500.

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