Liz Gorman urges Orland Park officials to address Safety Issues at Mall
Former Tollway Executive Director & Commissioner Liz Gorman urges Orland Park Village officials to address Safety Issues at the Orland Square Mall in the wake of the killing of a St. Michael’s teacher and injuring of another teacher. Gorman said that the tragedy raises public concerns about overall Mall safety noting that the mall’s “ring road” is often a speedway for motorists rushing to and from work each morning and night. The speed limit is posted at 25 MPH but oftentimes cars drive through it at speeds of up to 50 MPH
Former Illinois Tollway Executive Director and Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Gorman, today called upon the Orland Park Village Officials and Simon Property Group, which operates Orland Square Mall, to work together to improve lighting and explore speed restrictions to slow vehicle traffic at Orland Mall.
Gorman cited the tragic accident last week where a St. Michael School teacher lost her life and the injury of a second teacher both from St. Michael’s School puts a spotlight on a problem that has gone unaddressed at the Mall for many years.
“The safety of individuals must always be the highest priority of our village officials and Orland Square management,” Gorman said. Gorman noted without some safety improvements, continued vehicle and pedestrian accidents can occur, and consumer confidence will erode, resulting in fewer visitors to the mall and surrounding businesses.
“It is no secret drivers use the roads surrounding the Mall to avoid heavy traffic on LaGrange Road and the posted 25 mph speed limit on Orland Square Drive is widely ignored,” Gorman added. “Anyone that has driven the road knows most cars drive at much faster speeds.”
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She also noted the lighting at the Mall is not as effective as it is at other malls, such as the Best Buy Mall at 159thand Lagrange Road only 8 blocks south. “I am urging the mall owners who are responsible for the roadways, and the village, to make improvements to slow traffic and improve safety for the public.”
Gorman stated she is not criticizing Orland Park Police but praising their reliable efforts, while noting that the roadway is Mall property. Gorman would like to see many needed changes to address the excessive speeding of vehicles through the Mall such as strategic placement of speed bumps, safety cameras at all entrances/exits at the mall, increased lighting and illuminated signage.
“Our entire community is grieving this tragedy and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. I hope by raising and addressing these safety concerns, this kind of tragedy can be avoided in the future,” stated Gorman.
Police have charged former St. Michael’s Parish priest Paul Burak with DUI hit-and-run which occurred on Wednesday evening, Dec. 4, 2019. Burak had been at a Christmas Party for St. Michael’s teachers and staff along with the victims at the Square Celt Restaurant located on the outlot of the Orland Square Mall near LaGrange Road.
The victims were identified as St. Michael’s School teacher Margaret “Rone” Leja who was hit and killed by Burak after Burak left the party. Another St. Michael’s teacher, Liz Kostek, was also struck by Burak’s car and injured.
Burak had exited the restaurant parking lot, turned left into the a restaurant access area, drove through one of the restaurant drive-throughs. Leja and Kostek were leaving the restaurant at the same time to go to their car which was parked across a service drive road that leads to a group of nearby restaurants and retail stores at a secondary lot when they were struck by Burak’s car.
Burak is charged with aggravated DUI causing death, aggravated DUI causing bodily harm, failure to report an accident causing death and failure to report an accident causing injury, according to the Orland Park Police.