James D. Gerage, the 43-year-old Barrington Hills man who was found dead in a burning car on 21st Street in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood last week, was co-owner of the successful Elgin-based Omega Demolition Corp. with his brother Chuck Gerage.
Police say the body of James D. Gerage was found in the back seat of a burning vehicle on the 600 block of West 21st Street just west of the Chicago River and Chinatown. The rundown neighborhood where the vehicle was found is largely vacant with the streets in disrepair. Firefighters responded to the vehicle fire about 7:48 p.m. Friday September 23, 2016 near 21st and Jefferson.
Chicago police have not yet released details on the investigation of the car fire, and there is no confirmation regarding whether Gerage died at the scene or was brought to 21st Street and then lit on fire, or was lit by a third party after his body was abandoned on 21st Street. There have been a string of arsons in the area.
James D. Gerage is survived by his wife, Chanel, and two children, Brianna and Vincent, who are students in Barrington Area Unit School District 220. Gerage and his family lived near Spring Creek Valley Forest Preserve, which is where the body of Arlington Heights resident Timothy Anderson was found on February 10, 2016. Anderson’s death was ruled a suicide. Anderson worked at Northern Trust in Chicago.
James Gerage and his brother Chuck Gerage worked to develop Omega Demolition Corp., which employs about 300 people, since 1997.
Neither Omega Demolition or the victim’s family have made a statement about Gerage’s death.
Omega Demolition has worked on high-profile projects including demolition of the Ohio Street feeder bridge to and from the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago, the Ontario Street ramp, the O’Hare Airport taxiway bridge, the removal of concrete and a seating area at the Allstate Arena to install the Chicago Wolves ice rink, and more in the Chicago area and outside the Chicago area.
Safety procedures involving the company were scrutinized when an Omega Demolition employee, Vicente Santoyo, was killed on April 5, 2016 at about 2:53 a.m. as a 40-ton steel beam hit him while falling from the Jane Addams Expressway onto Touhy Avenue in Des Plaines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the accident was preventable and that it was investigating. OSHA opened an investigation of Omega Demolition Corporation and Judlau Contracting Inc. of Homer Glen hours after the fatal incident on morning of Tuesday April 5, 2016. Omega Demolition Corporation had seven health inspections since 2006. The purpose of the health inspections was to monitor personal protection from lead exposure due to the company’s work with lead abatement. Omega had two health violations in January 2011 related to the health inspections and two violations in 2006. The violations involved payment of minor fines of $3,465 in 2011 and $3,000 in 2006.
OSHA had previously issued Omega nine citations, many for lead hazards.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office said a determination on the cause and manner of Gerage’s death is pending.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Anne Church in Barrington. Arrangements are being handled by Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels in Roselle.
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