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Rookie cop from Oswego killed in crash

Heather Wandt | Supplied photo

Heather Wandt | Supplied photo

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Updated: September 8, 2013 6:22AM

COAL CITY — A rookie police officer from Oswego was killed in a car crash early Saturday on her way home from a training class at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Coal City police said.

Heather K. Wandt, 30, was hired as an officer July 8 and had just finished the fourth week of her training at the police academy at the U of I, according to Police Chief Tom Best.

Wandt, of Oswego, was driving a department-owned Chevrolet Lumina north on Illinois 47 shortly after midnight when she attempted to pass a semi-truck south of Illinois 116 in Livingston County, police said.

The car struck a pickup truck head-on, and Wandt was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. They said the driver of the pickup truck suffered leg injuries but is expected to survive.

“He’s very distraught at what happened,” Best said.

Livingston County authorities called Best about 3 a.m. Saturday to inform him of the fatal accident.

“The first thing I did was just sit there for a minute. It was pretty shocking,” he said. “Then I just wrote an email with the basic information and told anyone they could call me.”

Mourning bunting hangs on the front of the police station.

Best said Wandt always had wanted to be a police officer and had the top score this year out of more than 100 applicants who tested to join the Coal City department.

“As a veteran, you sometimes lose enthusiasm, but to see somebody excited about law enforcement like she was when we talked renews your own feelings,” the chief recalled.

He said Wandt was at the police station about a month ago when she picked up one of the new squad cars from a nearby dealer. “It was just from Wilmington to Coal City, but you could see she was happy that she got to be a part of it and drive a squad car as an officer for the first time,” Best said.

He said Wandt was previously a cadet with the Waubonsee Community College police and was engaged to be married next year to a Glenview public safety employee.

“We were just starting to get to know her, and I’m sorry we won’t get the opportunity to [know her better],” Best said.

Funeral arrangements for Wandt are pending.

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