Article for Medill: Car explodes during suicide

One man is dead after an explosion Thursday night in garage of the house at 9320 Greenwood Avenue across the street from the Golf Mill Shopping Center, according to Bob Cohen, Director of the Maine Township Emergency Management Agency.

Leo McDevitt, 44, was found dead inside the garage of the house by firefighters responding to an emergency call placed at 6:43 p.m. His death was listed as a suicide by carbon monoxide inhalation, according to an investigator at the Cook County Office of the Medical Examiner.

McDevitt’s wife came home after firefighters had arrived, said Robert Batey, Chief of the North Maine Fire Protection District. Emergency personnel found nobody else in the home after three searches, Batey said.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation by federal, state, local and county authorities, Batey said. Foul play was ruled out, Batey said, and it was not the car that exploded.

The house’s windows were shattered. The address sign hanged at a forty-five degree angle. The front door leaned against the side of the house and lamp posts marking the entrance to the garage were bent. The roof sloped unnaturally as if ready to slide off and ragged tears zigzagged up the side of brick columns.

A charred and dented car – a Monte Carlo according to Batey – sat crookedly in the driveway. Rags of rubber, presumably the car’s tires, lay on the ground and the severed roof of the car rested a few feet away like a fin cut from the back of a fish.

The home’s garage door was closed at the time of the explosion, Cohen said. Bits of it were found 80 yards away in the parking lot of nearby Golf Mill Shopping Center, Cohen said.

“Almost every wall on the house had some section blown out,” he said.

No other houses in the area were affected by the explosion, Cohen said.

North Maine Fire Protect District arrived first on the scene, Cohen said, and nine other fire departments were called in to assist. Firefighters worked on the fire until 1:30 a.m. and put out a small flare-up around 3:30 a.m., Cohen said.

Other officials and officers from the Maine Township Emergency Management Agency, Niles Police Department and Cook County Sheriff’s Office were on the scene as well, Cohen said.

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