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Westmont man dies month after being dragged under car trying to stop vandals

Fiancee, family say Charlie Lawton's will to help people cost him his life

WESTMONT – Charlie Lawton lived by the Golden Rule, an approach to life that cost him his own earlier this month.

“He would help anyone as long as they needed it,” said his brother, Jeromy Lawton. “There were many occasions where someone would ask him for help and he would make time and help, no matter what it was.” 

Charlie Lawton of Westmont died July 13, one month to the day the 35-year-old father of four attempted to stop two men from vandalizing a car in a parking lot outside his place of work in Bedford Park.

Lawton was dragged under a Jeep Cherokee for about 60 feet after stepping in front of the car driven by an alleged gang member and an accomplice trying to flee the scene, according to police. After a month in a coma at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and later the burn unit at Loyola University Medical Center, Lawton died from his injuries.

His fiancee, Amanda Pozniak, who two months ago gave birth to the couple’s first child, remembered the man she was to marry just as his brother did.

“He would help anybody anytime, and that’s just what we was trying to do,” she said. “The world would be a better place if more people were as caring as Charlie was.”

Lawton grew up in Streator and lived in Ottawa for some time before he moved to Westmont about a year ago to be with Pozniak and her 6-year-old daughter, she said. He worked nights as a machine operator and programmer at Pactiv in Bedford Park.

Pozniak, who said she is unemployed, finds herself as the sole provider for her daughter and newborn. She moved out of the Westmont apartment recently and is living with family, she said.

“It’s scary, and I don’t know how I’m going to provide for these kids,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair for them. All in one day, your whole life can be flipped upside down.”

Lawton did not have a life insurance policy, Pozniak said.

“We had talked about it, but he never got around to it,” she said.

Pozniak said she isn’t angry with her fiance for intervening. She said it was just instinct on his part.

“You never expect that someone will run you over,” Pozniak said. “He was such a great person that he would do it instinctively. I’m still a little mad at him for not calling the police, but he never even thought twice about it.”

While Lawton’s father, Charles Lawton, said it had been nine years since he was in contact with his son, he said the loss is huge.

“It’s hard to put into words how proud you are of him. I wish we would have been able to tell him,” he said.

One of the two suspects alleged to have run over Lawton is 28-year-old Jose Gasco Garcia of Chicago, who has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond.

A search for the second suspect, whom police have identified, is ongoing, according to Bedford Park police.

On Saturday, family, friends and acquaintances gathered at a memorial service for Charlie Lawton at St. Mary’s of Gostyn Church.

A memorial fund has been set up for Pozniak and her daughters at TCF Bank under “Charles Lawton Funds.”

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