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Woman pleads guilty in traffic death of Countryside mother

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By Joe Sinopoli, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
La Grange Suburban Life

La Grange, IL - The driver who accidentally killed Cari Cook has pleaded guilty to traffic offenses, paid her fines and must keep a clean driver’s record for at least four months.


For Cari Cook’s family, finding closure remains elusive.

Mary McPhillips, 45, the Chicago woman who struck and killed Countryside resident Cari Cook, 31, as she crossed 47th Street May 19, pled guilty for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian and improper lane usage in Cook County Circuit Court in Bridgeview Aug. 3.

Meanwhile, Matt Cook, Cari’s husband, said he and family members as well as friends were expecting to find some closure when they attended the hearing at its scheduled time of 10:30 a.m. Instead, they were informed the hearing before Judge Maureen Feerick had been rescheduled for an earlier time and was over.

“Just before 10:30 a.m. (village prosecutor John Kenney) had requested that I and a couple of family members come out and talk with him,” Matt Cook said. “At that point, he informed us (McPhillips) had arrived earlier that morning and requested to appear at that time.”

Kenney said the legal maneuver is not uncommon.

“What technically happened was Ms. McPhillips chose to plead early,” he said. “It’s not unusual for a defendant to plead early if they want to just get a plea in and not contest it.”

Kenney would not speculate as to whether or not McPhillips was trying to avoid a face to face meeting with Cari Cook’s survivors.

“I don’t know what she was thinking, but she did look serious,” Kenney said.

For the Cook family and friends, the hearing was going to be an occasion to put one chapter of the tragedy behind them.

“We were kind of taking aback by it because we weren’t there to say anything or even planned to say anything. We just wanted to be present because my wife couldn’t be there, and it was tough for us to be in a place where we really didn’t want to be and for it to turn out that way,” Matt Cook said. “Some people were visibly upset by that. We didn’t go there with any other reason but to support my wife.”

La Grange Police Chief Michael Holub said his investigators were not informed of the time change either.

“It’s not unusual that a judge would move up a traffic matter to accommodate people,” Holub said.

McPhillips was also placed under court supervision, which Kenney said means she cannot receive a a traffic ticket for a set period of time.

“Generally it’s four months,” he said.

Investigators had concluded Cari Cook’s death was not the result of recklessness or negligence. Asked if there were any plans to file a civil suit against McPhillips, Matt Cook said he was not prepared to make any comment at this time.

Cari Cook had crossed 47th Street with her 2-year-old daughter in a stroller and her 4-month-old son strapped to her chest when she was struck by McPhillips’ vehicle as Cari Cook was trying to lift the stroller over the curb.

The infant boy suffered a fractured leg. Her daughter was unharmed.

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Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)
(1978-2009)

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