PORTAGE PARK — Timothy Kast always made his friends and family laugh with his dry sense of humor, his loved ones said. The navy veteran also loved Chicago sports, fishing in Wisconsin and going on long walks with his wife and their dog, Max.
Kast, 46, died May 19 after a drunk motorcyclist hit him in the 5300 block of West Irving Park near Portage Park’s neighborhood park late at night. He was returning from a Cubs game with his brother-in-law and crossing the street en route to his sister’s house across the park when the crash happened, according to his family and police.
The man who hit Kast, Krzysztof Ruta of Evanston, was also critically injured. He was charged with two misdemeanors of driving while drunk and cited for driving without insurance and speeding, according to police. He died over the weekend from injuries related to the crash, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
“The drunk motorcyclist was driving so fast, doing wheelies and had no headlights and was also wearing dark sunglasses when he hit my brother-in-law,” said Asia Zagata, Kast’s sister-in-law.
Even though Ruta has died, Kast’s family wants answers about what led up to the crash, where Ruta was coming from and who might have been with him and saw the crash. Zagata said the family heard there was a passenger on the motorcycle but police could not confirm that. The investigation is ongoing.
‘He Deserved The World’
Kast grew up on the city’s North Side and graduated from St. Gregory High School in Andersonville, his family shared in an obituary. He served in the US Navy for five years on USS Nimitz, the lead ship of the US Navy’s Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, for the majority of his career. Kast received the National Defense Medal, Good Conduct Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation during his tenure.
A online fundraiser to raise money for his memorial and funeral raised over $22,000. Some of the leftover money will go toward supporting his wife Kasia Kast’s expenses, the family said.
Kasia and Tim Kast were together nearly 20 years and married for 14.
“He was an amazing cook,” Kasia Kast said in a statement sent through her sister, Zagata. “He was a loving husband, gave the best big hugs, loved to be silly and joke around. He had such passion for his favorite sports, that was his getaway.”
He always helped his friends and family in need and was a loving family man, Zagata said. He is survived by his parents, siblings, nephews and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Tim Kast lived near Midway Airport with his wife and her parents, who are Polish, Zagata said.
“Although he didn’t speak Polish and my parents didn’t speak English, they learned how to communicate through the 19 years regardless,” Zagata said.
HIs wife said she wants the community to remember her husband’s kindness and love that radiated through everything he did.
“He was a sweetheart and he deserved the world,” she wrote. She “will miss him. I am heartbroken.”
Tim Kast loved the Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls and was a fan of WWE wrestling, but deeply disliked the Sox, his family said. The Cubs honored the longtime fan by displaying his name on the marquee at the end of May, which delighted Kast’s friends and family.
‘People Are Being Idiots’
Kast died a block away from where 25-year-old Tanner Kapan, a father of two, was killed in a hit-and-run crash in April while riding his motorcycle on Irving Park Road near Lockwood Avenue.
Neighbors and business owners along the busy stretch, which has a speed camera near the park, said they don’t know what could have been done to avoid both crashes. A longtime business owner at a nearby car dealership, who declined to give his name, said he’s seen many car crashes on Irving Park Road — with incompetent drivers to blame.
“People are being idiots,” he said.
A Portage Park resident named Michael, who declined to give his last name, has lived in the area for about 35 years and said he’s never seen so many killings and serious injuries from street crashes in the neighborhood.
“I’ve never seen it this bad,” he said. “Drivers need to be better.”
Many crashes in the area have been hit-and-runs. A man was seriously injured in hit-and-run Portage Park crash last week. A white Toyota Highlander hit a cyclist at Melvina and Sunnyside avenues in May in Jefferson Park. Police are still searching for the driver who fled the scene. In April, a hit-and run driver hit a man who was running from gunshots in Portage Park.
Ald. Nick Sposato (38th), who represents part of the neighborhood where Kast was killed, blamed bad drivers for recent crashes. With the area’s speed camera, stop signs and speed bumps on side streets, the alderman and neighbors say they don’t think any added infrastructure can curb car crashes on Irving Park Road.
Sposato is contemplating asking the Chicago Department of Transportation to add speed indicators on busy streets in his ward like Irving, Central and Austin.
“It might not help but it can’t hurt… [it could] slow people down 1 or 2 percent,” Sposato said.
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