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Metra spokesperson says incident ‘may have been a suicide’

A 17-year-old Mokena girl was struck and killed by a Metra train late Wednesday, May 21, near the Front Street station in Mokena.

The girl was pronounced dead at 12:05 a.m. Thursday, May 22, according a Will County Coroner’s Office press release.

“Initial information indicates it may have been a suicide,” said Meg Reile, a Metra spokeswoman.

Danielle Tabor

Mokena father of three Brian Costello is one heck of a guy, according to those who know him best. 

In addition to running Mokena-based Costello Wholesale Floor Company with his wife, Christine, Brian regularly takes his boys on frog-capturing, salmon-catching adventures. He takes them to football practice and school picnics, too, those interviewed said.

Will O'Brien

When a little boy at AutoZone stared at Michael Assefa’s prosthetic running blade recently, Assefa responded by lifting the blade and saying “It’s cool, isn’t it? Just like Iron Man!”

The positive response is characteristic of the 21-year-old Lincoln-Way East alum. Assefa lost the lower part of his left leg in an accident, but during the past three years, has risen to become one of 31 representatives from the United States in the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports World Games.  

An event that failed to earn Village Board approval last summer has been given the green light its second go around.

The Mokena Downtown Merchants Association is set to host a Feast of St. Mary Mount Carmel on Sunday, July 20, in the Front Street commuter lot.

Will O'Brien

The Mokena couple who died in a house fire Wednesday, June 11, has been identified.

Edwin L. Pauls, 81, and Arline R. Pauls, 80, both of Mokena, were pronounced dead at 4:48 a.m. Wednesday, June 11, in the 9400 block of Magnolia Drive in Frankfort Township, according to the Will County Coroner's Office.

Autopsies were performed June 11, and initial indications are that both experienced smoke inhalation. The final cause and manner of death are pending the outcome of autopsy, toxicological, police and fire reports, according to the coroner's office.

Danielle Tabor
Press conference scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Mokena native Aaron Toppen, a Lincoln-Way East graduate, was among five American troops killed by friendly fire Monday, June 9, during a security operation in southern Afghanistan, a family friend said.

Toppen was 19.

“It’s very tragic,” said Jennie Swartz, the family friend who spoke to The Mokena Messenger by phone Tuesday, June 10.

Danielle Tabor

Aaron Toppen grew up dreaming of serving his country.

Though he and family members knew his enlisting would come with an unavoidable degree of risk, they held firm and united — a tight-knit group — in supporting his ambition, keeping close from the time he was a tot to a teen.

Rebecca Susmarski

Since finishing high school, a group of Mokena and Frankfort natives have gone on to excel at Olivet Nazarene University both on and off the softball diamond.

Cheryl Sendzik, Caitlin Santefort, Hannah Gardner and Megan Butler all made big contributions to the Tigers’ 49-5-1 season, conference championship and NAIA World Series appearance, said longtime Olivet Coach Ritchie Richardson.

“The year itself has been fantastic, and these girls are a big reason why,” he said. 

Rebecca Susmarski

The Mokena Village Board of Trustees heard a proposal for a shooting range to come to Mokena during a June 16 work session at Village Hall. 

Dubbed Live Fire Gun Shop & Club, the business would be housed in a brand-new, custom-designed, 38,000-square-foot building at 18810 88th Ave. if granted a special use permit by the board. The establishment as currently proposed would contain a gun shop and shooting ranges for rifles and pistols. The business would also offer concealed carry classes and club membership. 

Rebecca Susmarski

With Frisbees floating lazily around Mokena’s Main Park Friday, July 4, the 60-member, red-shirted Encore Concert Band tuned its instruments.

“This is the part of our Fourth of July celebration that I have come to like best,” said Bea Johannsen, a Mokena resident, as she set down her wooden picnic basket and spread a checkered, red-and-white blanket on the grass. “When my kids were young, the parade was always the highlight. But now that I’m up in age, I like things a little more relaxed, like this concert.”

Rebecca Susmarski

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