A Forest Park woman who was struck and killed by a drunken driver shortly after midnight on May 24 may have also been intoxicated, according to police, but investigators won’t know for sure until they receive toxicology reports. However, authorities believe that Lydia Salmanis, 50, was lying in an alley behind 7301 Roosevelt Road when she was crushed to death.
“It appears she just fell in the alley,” Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas said. “The statements we’re getting, she may have been intoxicated, but we’re not 100 percent sure.”
An Oak Park man was arrested and is facing felony charges for allegedly killing the woman. Authorities took 39-year-old Kevin J. Olis into custody after a patrolling officer spotted Olis’ van traveling north on Harlem Avenue, away from the scene. According to a heavily redacted report on his arrest released by police, Olis was traveling with a passenger when he allegedly ran over Salmanis. The passenger got out of Olis’ van and Olis drove away leaving the man there with the fatally injured woman.
That individual, whose name was not released by authorities, was not charged in the incident. A department report indicates that Olis’ passenger may have stayed with the dying woman, though police located him at Carole’s, a nearby bar.
Olis’ blood-alcohol content was measured at .089. State law dictates that a motorist is intoxicated when their BAC measures .08.
The victim’s longtime boyfriend Dave Petty said he was with Salmanis for much of the day before her death and was shocked when officers arrived at his door to tell him about the incident. The two had spent a “typical day” together, he said, working on Salmanis’ flower beds before heading out in the evening for drinks.
“She was a really good person,” Petty, 33, said. “She loved gardening. She was a frequent traveler and had visited Mexico and various countries in Europe.”
According to a manager at Hideaway, the bar located just steps from where Salmanis was killed, employees there may have been among the last to see the woman alive. Salmanis came into the bar by herself around 11 p.m. and asked for a glass of wine, said Andrew Painter. The bartender refused to serve her, and another employee called a cab for the woman. Salmanis, however, refused to get into the cab and insisted she could manage the short walk south to her home on the 1300 block of Elgin Avenue, according to Painter.
“She looked pretty intoxicated,” Painter said.
A short while later, Painter stepped outside to smoke a cigarette and said he saw Salmanis walking north from the Roosevelt Road bar, in the opposite direction of her home.
Police received a phone call at 12:09 a.m. that Salmanis had been struck in the alley, where she died less than a half-mile from her home. She had lived in Forest Park for at least 20 years, said Petty.
Olis is facing two felony charges of aggravated drunken driving resulting in death, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident, according to police.