Chicago, IL – Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Theofanopoulos was killed in a head-on collision on Monday night as he was heading to relieve a fellow deputy guarding an inmate at a local hospital.
Off-duty Deputy Theofanopoulos, 39, was driving northbound on Kedzie Avenue in his 2006 Nissan Altima when the collision occurred just before 9 p.m., the Chicago Sun Times reported.
Prior to the crash, the other driver, 21-year-old Monzerat Perez, had consumed multiple alcoholic drinks, then took off in her Jeep, a witness told police.
She was driving without her headlights on, crossed over into oncoming traffic, and blew through a stoplight, then continued driving on the wrong side of the road, according to prosecutors.
Moments later, Perez slammed into Deputy Theofanopoulos head-on.
Deputy Theofanopoulos was rushed to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn – which also happened to be the same location he had been heading to in order to relieve his fellow deputy, WBBM reported.
He was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
Perez was also taken to Christ Hospital, where investigators learned she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.265 – more than three times above the legal limit, the Chicago Sun Times reported.
While at the hospital, Perez allegedly tried to escape on two occasions, police said.
Officers guarding her room stopped her, and placed her in handcuffs after her first attempt.
Perez managed to slip her cuffs, and despite being nude, tried to take off again.
She has been charged with reckless homicide, driving under the influence leading to death, and escape.
Despite the allegations that she killed a law enforcement officer and tried to run away from police while in custody, Judge Mary Marubio set Perez’s bail at just $50,000.
Deputy Theofanopoulos had been with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) for 15 years, and was assigned to external operations, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fellow deputies at this exceptionally difficult time,” CCSO spokesperson Cara Smith told WLS.
A police procession escorted the body of the fallen deputy from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, WGN reported.
Deputy Theofanopoulos leaves behind his parents, siblings, grandmother, and several nieces and nephews, according to his obituary.
He will be laid to rest on Monday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Nick Theofanopoulos, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.