Patrolman George T. Bryja collapsed and died of a heart attack after a foot pursuit.
Officer Bryja was off duty when he was awakened at 3:00 a.m. by the sound of the burglar alarm on the family car. His wife set the alarm off when she drove up to the house and saw two men trying to set a neighbor’s garage on fire after spray-painting it with graffiti.
Officer Bryja and his 18-year-old son chased the vandals through an alley for four blocks before loosing them. When he returned home, he was sweating profusely, complained of chest pains and collapsed. Officer Bryja was transported to Holy Cross Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 4:51 a.m.
Officer Bryja was a veteran of the Marines and served 20-years with the Chicago Police Department, assigned to the Morgan Park District. His wife, daughter and a son survive him. Officer Bryja’s son followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Chicago Police Department.