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Longtime Steger firefighter killed in Crete hit-and-run

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CRETE | A retired Steger firefighter who was struck by a car in a hit-and-run crash in Crete late Sunday night was pronounced dead from his injuries early Monday.

Police are investigating the death as a reckless homicide.

Leonard Bottando, 70, of the 3600 block of Chicago Road in Steger, was pronounced dead at 12:18 a.m. Monday at Franciscan St. James Health hospital in Chicago Heights, said a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical examiner's office.

Bottando was struck by a vehicle while walking at 8:17 p.m. Sunday in the 1300 block of Main Street in Crete, the spokeswoman said.

According to a news release by the Crete Police Department, evidence left at the scene of the hit-and-run suggests the vehicle involved was a Chevrolet utility vehicle with front end damage.

Police are reviewing closed circuit camera video from local businesses in an attempt to find the vehicle responsible for the crime.

Steger Deputy Police Chief Gregory Rambo said Bottando used to own an old 1900s-style gas station at 3420 Chicago Road in Steger, about one block south of Steger Road. The property is currently owned by Route 1 Auto Sales.

"He had a couple of barber chairs in there and guys would come in and just hang out," Rambo said. "He had a grill outside, and if it was a nice day, he'd cook and feed everybody. Lenny was a good guy."

Rambo said he remembered Bottando driving pumper trucks to fire and accident scenes and being, "one of the more knowledgeable, skilled guys on the force."

Crete police are asking anyone with information about the hit-and-run or vehicle to contact them at (708) 672-0911.


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