ROGERS PARK — A police officer who loved his North Side neighborhood died early Thursday after being hit by a cab near a Rogers Park bar.
Michael Schaefer, a 34-year-old officer for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, was hit in the 6800 block of North Sheridan Road and later pronounced dead at Evanston's St. Francis Hospital, according to witnesses and the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Schaefer, who lived nearby in the 6700 block of North Glenwood Avenue, had been enjoying a few beers at Oasis bar before the accident, according to Joe Chikko, head of security at Oasis. A southbound cab struck him after he "walked into" traffic, police said.
"I was the first on top of him," Chikko said, adding that Schaefer was breathing after he was hit, and he did not expect him to die.
"Nothing was broken. There was no blood," he said. "Only his pants were ripped."
Schaefer’s siblings were devastated by their brother’s death when reached Friday.
"He was someone who would give you the shirt off [his] back,” Schaefer's sister Lindsey Kilsdonk said. "He had the biggest smile and most infectious laugh. We joked at calling him the mayor of Rogers Park."
Kilsdonk said she and her brothers grew up near the Rogers Park community.
Schaefer worked for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for nearly five years, a police officer at Malcolm X College and a security officer at Wrigley Field. He also worked as a lifeguard at Loyola Beach during the summer months.
“Officer Schaefer received the Ervin H. Warren Award which is presented to one officer in each class who best exemplifies today's concept of tomorrow's police officer,” the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago said in a statement on Friday. “Officer Schaefer was highly respected and well regarded by his fellow police officers and MWRD staff. He will be missed.”
Kilsdonk said Michael Schaefer ran a triathlon this summer to raise money for Misericordia to benefit his friend's 2-year-old son, who was diagnosed with brain cancer.
"He was just the most giving person I know," she said. "He had a lot of friends. He’s just so big on helping others."
The cab driver reportedly had the green light, but was issued a citation for striking a pedestrian, police said.
Chikko said he spoke with the cab driver, who remained at the scene. He said the driver had seen Schaefer hunched over in the roadway before striking him, but did not think he was intoxicated.
"He was straight. He had a couple of Miller Lites," Chikko said. "I would have bet you 100-to-one he would have been home that night."