STERLING, Ill. (AP) — An investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is hospitalized in a coma after being assaulted while trying to take protective custody of a child.
Andrew Sucher, 29, allegedly struck the 59-year-old female investigator repeatedly in the head on Friday when she appeared at the 2-year-old child's home near Sterling, according to state officials and court records.
The Chicago Tribune reports the woman suffered brain injuries and is in a coma. She is hospitalized in Rockford, and has undergone two surgeries.
Sucher was arrested in Dixon and is being held in lieu of $200,000 bond in the Carroll County Jail on aggravated battery charges.
The department became involved with the family in July after Sucher was charged in Whiteside County with felony aggravated battery of a child. Court records show he was accused of dragging a 6-year-old boy by the feet and striking him in the face with a plastic squirt gun. Sucher also was charged in that incident with domestic violence for allegedly attacking his girlfriend.
Sucher was free on $15,000 bond when he was arrested for the attack on the investigator. A public defender assigned to the case was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Department Director Beverly B.J. Walker said the attack underscores the dangers of the job. She noted that investigators often visit homes where they are not welcome and deal with families racked by domestic violence, drug abuse and criminal activity.
"There's a lot more work out there and lot more work that's harder than it used to be," Walker said. "They are showing up in the middle of family crises, (and) by the time we get there, it's been happening a long time."
The union which represents DCFS workers called for a review of agency policies and a commitment to assure staffing levels that can "protect at-risk children and the employees we count on to safeguard them."