Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Finally some good news in a bad story

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col Impressions


Finally, there is a little something good to feel about in a feel-bad story.

A tragedy on Nov. 8, 2013 occurred in Worth when 18-year-old Brittany Wawrzniak was killed when she fell out of a moving car in the parking lot near the village’s boat launch.

It rocked a lot of people’s worlds.

A dead teenager is never a pleasant story and things escalated in the coming months when her family was upset with the way the police and village officials were handling the situation.

A pair of heated board meetings in April, 2014 resorted to name calling, yelling and people had to be frisked to get into one of them because of threats on social media. Family and friends vowed to come to every board until they were satisfied with the resolution. That didn’t happen.

The bottom line is did she jump or was she pushed?

The Brittany camp says she was pushed. Worth officials say otherwise. They say the case is closed and there are mountains of pages of the investigation available to anyone who wants to read them.

There are no winners here.

Family and friends lost a loved one at an all-too-young age. The cops and officials, who had to stay silent while the investigation went on, lost in the public relations battle while the family hurled accusations at them.

But on June 2, there was finally a little bit of positive news to come out of this.

The Worth board voted unanimously to allow a memorial bench to be built at the Worth boat launch at 115th Street and Beloit Avenue. The family will pay for it but the village will install it.

Brittany’s parents, Patrick Wawrzniak and Rebecca Tully showed up at the meeting. Patrick thanked the board and they both left and had no further comment after our correspondent, Sharon L. Filkins, approached them.

The atmosphere was chilly but Filkins said the brief public conversation between Mayor Mary Werner and the parents was “very respectful.’’

I wasn’t expecting a lovey-dovey reunion here. I wasn’t expecting smiles, high-fives or backslaps.

But given the powderkeg meetings from April, 2014, I wasn’t sure if a family member or friend was going to pop up and re-open some old wounds. That wouldn’t have been the time or place for it and I’m glad that didn’t happen.

So in the coming weeks, Worth Public Works personnel will be putting up a six-foot side wrought iron and rosewood bench in Brittany’s memory.

“It is just a peaceful place where people will be able to sit on the bench and enjoy the quiet,” Werner said.

Years from now, some people will see Brittany’s name and lament about the death of a teenager who was strongly loved by her family and friends. Some will not have known or forgotten the controversy surrounding her death.  This bench is going to have a lot of interesting history behind it.  

The family did the right thing by going through proper channels to get this done.

The village did the right thing by approving it.

It was the first good news to come from this story.