Ride home brought thrill: Fast car and arrest of escapees
October 13, 2012 8:18PM
Updated: January 15, 2013 4:35PM
Two weeks ago I wrote about a man’s impact on the path his son followed in life. Last week it was about escaped prisoners.
So to tie such things together ...
When Fred was 12 years old he finally made the Romeoville Spartans Pop Warner Football team after years of being told he was too small.
But after practicing the same drills with his bigger friends who were playing, he’d earned a running back position for a season that ran through early fall.
“I remember walking out of practice one evening. I was carrying my helmet with my shoulder pads and jersey and my dad was waiting for me,” he said. “I started looking for our car in the parking lot, and he said ‘No. Over here.’ ”
Fred Sr. had brought one of the first seizures the newly formed Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad had ever taken from a drug dealer — a brand-new brown Chevrolet Camaro.
“It was going to be used for undercover work, but he thought (first that) I’d like to ride in a cool car,” his son recalled.
Fred Sr. said nothing else as they got in and Fred Jr. began listening to the calls coming over the police radio on the dashboard. While the calls probably were pretty routine, they still interested the boy for the short drive from the high school football fields.
“I was just watching my dad, and all of the sudden I see him look at these two guys in the parking lot of West View (now A. Vito Martinez) School,” Fred Jr. said. “He pulled in, got on the radio to call for marked units and said, ‘You wait right here!’ ”
The boy watched his father pull a revolver from his belt and hold it on the two men standing 20 feet in front of the Camaro.
The two men remained motionless as the calls coming over the radio took on an urgency before uniformed officers arrived to put them in handcuffs.
“My dad got back in the car and started driving away. He didn’t say anything until he saw I had about a million questions going through my head,” Fred Jr. said.
“Those were a couple of guys who escaped from the Department of Corrections,” Fred Sr. said, pausing a moment before adding, “Don’t tell your mother.”
As far as his son knows, Fred Hayes never mentioned the incident again. Hayes, who served as Romeoville’s police chief from 1966 to 1983, died Sept. 22 at age 75.
Besides buying a 1974 Camaro when he turned 16, the car ride may have been even more influential. Fred Hayes Jr. served more than 30 years as a Joliet police officer and retired as chief. He now leads the Elwood Police Department.
“It probably had the most impact of any moment in my life,” he said. “I was thrilled to get a front seat view of cops in action ... and it was my dad. That ride was (better than) the Batmobile.”