The owner of a backyard pool where a 4-year-old boy drowned over the weekend drove into a house and died while on his way to a store to buy a pump to drain the pool, authorities said.
Robert V. Miletta, 47, of Joliet died from a heart condition, an autopsy found after the Monday crash. Police said he had complained of chest pains the night before, hours after the boy was discovered in his backyard pool.
"It's just awful," said Bridget Abbott, whose home Miletta ran into around 9 a.m. Monday. "To have the drowning, then this? That family must be traumatized."
The boy had been reported missing by a relative around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Joliet police Cmdr. Al Roechner. The relative last saw the boy asleep at 5 a.m., shortly before taking the boy's parents to the airport, leaving the boy and his younger sister at home in the care of others, police said.
The relative returned around 10 a.m. and couldn't find the boy, according to his great-grandfather.
Twenty minutes after the relative's call, police got a call that a child had been discovered in the backyard above-ground pool at a home about two blocks away, in the 1400 block of Green Trails Drive. Police tried CPR, and paramedics took the boy to Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m.
Although authorities identified the boy, the Tribune is not naming him because relatives said Monday night the boy's parents had not been notified yet of his death.
Miletta, 47, and his family spent Sunday night in a motel, intending to stay there until the pool was gone, police said. "The family couldn't handle it being there," Roechner said.
The boy's great-grandfather said he went to the Milettas' house to console them. "I understand his daughter found (the boy), and she was just hysterical," he said. "I had to explain to them that it wasn't their fault."
Miletta had planned to take down the pool Monday with his brother. He was driving east on Meadowbrook Street about 9 a.m. when he failed to turn at the T-intersection at Brookfield Drive, Roechner said. The intersection is fewer than three blocks from Miletta's home.
Milletta's Hyundai Santa Fe sped over the curb into the front yard of Abbott's house, uprooting two trees and striking a post supporting the front porch before rolling on its side. Abbott said she returned from a trip to buy breakfast cereal to find her yard blocked off with crime scene tape.
Roechner said Miletta had complained of chest pains Sunday night. The Will County coroner's office ruled Miletta died of "multiple cardiac conditions."
"I don't know how to explain it. It's like a chain reaction," said the boy's great-grandfather, shaking his head. "So many things could've happened. Now we've got to plan a funeral, and they've got to plan a funeral."
Tribune reporter Andy Grimm contributed.
Man distraught over boy's drowning dies on way to buy pump to drain pool
Tribune photo illustration (Chicago Tribune)