An investigation into the death of Abderrahmane Lamrabet has gained little ground since he was fatally injured in a hit-and-run accident last month, police said. The investigation has been hampered by a lack of witnesses.
Lamrabet, a 52-year-old Moroccan native, suffered extensive head trauma after being struck by a silver vehicle as he attempted to cross Madison Street in the 7400 block on Jan. 21. According to friends, Lamrabet was leaving the Kazzbarr after watching an NFL playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. At the time of the accident the street was mostly vacant except for bar patrons who were otherwise occupied with the football games, Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said.
“The Bears game was over,” Aftanas said. “Most of the people were watching the second game between the Colts and the Patriots. It seems like the streets were pretty much deserted during those football games.”
Lamrabet was struck by the east bound vehicle just before 8 p.m., according to police. He was pronounced dead at Loyola Hospital in nearby Maywood, at 8:29 p.m.
For the past eight years Lamrabet drove a taxi for the Blue Cab Company on Roosevelt Road. Prior to that, he was a chef at the Grape Leaves restaurant in Oak Park, according to friends.
He had recently moved from an apartment on Madison Street to 1123 Hannah Ave.
Police spoke with at least a half-dozen people who may have heard or seen the accident, Aftanas said, and more than 100 auto body repair shops in the area were asked to keep an eye out for silver and gray cars with front end damage. A few leads were generated from these efforts, but police have made no arrests.
Aftanas declined to comment on whether a description of the driver has been compiled.
Jeanne Wilson was a friend of Lamrabet’s and helped organize a fundraiser held Friday at one of his favorite bars, the Kazzbarr. Wilson has been in touch with Lamrabet’s ex-wife, Sara Nach, who still lives in Morocco, and said the money will be sent to her.
“It was day-to-day survival,” Wilson said of Lamrabet’s family. “His mother’s very old.”
While living in America, Lamrabet sent money to his family on a monthly basis.
According to Wilson, Nach and Lamrabet separated amicably and did so only because of residency restrictions related to her job with the Moroccan government. Before coming to American, Lamrabet worked as an undercover police officer focusing largely on drug-related crimes, according to Zouhair El Amri, Lamrabet’s Forest Park roommate.
The Review contacted Nach via e-mail in Morocco, and the grieving woman spoke lovingly of the man she knew for more than 14 years. Those close to him used an abbreviated version of his first name, Abdul.
“Abdul was everything for me, he was the most kind man I’ve ever seen in my life,” Nach said in an e-mail to the Review. “…I’m just living now with his souvenirs, his jokes … he loved to help people, he loved to see everybody happy without problems; God have mercy on him.”
In a separate e-mail received by Wilson, Nach asked for copies of any phone messages Lamrabet may have left with friends so that she may hear his voice one more time.
“My heart is bleeding because of Abdul, I feel as if there was fire in my heart because he left me alone in this world,” Nach said in her e-mail.
In accordance with the Islamic faith, Lamrabet’s family insisted that he be buried quickly and that his body not be disturbed by the embalming process. Doing so eliminated any chance of sending Lamrabet’s body to Morocco for burial, and Wilson said, allowed little opportunity to notify friends in the community of the services here. Friday’s fundraiser was in large part an opportunity for well wishers to pay their respects.
“Best customer ever,” Jellison said. “A gentleman.”
Nach said she respects the family’s decision but wishes she had a gravesite nearby to mourn her ex-husband’s death. She’s planning to visit in April once she has saved enough for a plane ticket.
Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact police. Tips may be made anonymously by calling the Forest Park Police Department’s non-emergency line at (708) 366-2425.