A pregnant mother who was run over and had her child abducted in a carjacking near Libertyville has filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen after the company forced police to pay them to provide the car’s location.
The incident happened around 3:35 p.m. on February 23 in the 16000 block of West Buckley Road in unincorporated Libertyville.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said deputies received a call for a vehicular hijacking with a two-year-old child still inside the vehicle.
34-year-old Taylor Shepherd, who was approximately six months pregnant at the time, had just returned to her residence, according to her neighbors and police.
She pulled into her driveway and brought one of her children inside, Covelli said.
Shepherd came back to her car to retrieve her other child, a two-year-old boy, when a white BMW pulled into her driveway behind her car.
A man exited the passenger side of the BMW and struggled to get into the woman’s 2021 Volkswagen Atlas as she tried to keep her two-year-old son safe.
The offender battered Shepherd and knocked her to the ground, Covelli said. He then stole her car with the child inside.
He and the driver of the BMW, described as a 2000s model with a black bumper and loud exhaust, fled from the scene.
One of the two drivers ran Shepherd over as they fled, causing serious injuries to her extremities, Covelli said.
The woman was still able to call 911 and sheriff’s deputies immediately responded.
Sheriff’s detectives also responded to the scene and the general area to assist in the search for the Volkswagen.
Covelli told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that one of the detectives immediately called Volkswagen Car-Net because he knew the stolen vehicle had a GPS locator.
The detective called the emergency number and explained the circumstances.
The employee looked up the VIN and confirmed the vehicle could be tracked but declined to do it because the trial period for the software in the car had ended.
Covelli said the detective pleaded with the employee and informed them it was a life-and-death situation.
The employee said he was required to follow policy and could not give the location until payment was secured.
Detectives had to get a credit card to pay Volkswagen. The entire process added a 30-minute delay, Covelli said.
“It took so long that we had very fortunately already located the abducted two-year-old and also found the stolen Volkswagen,” Covelli said.
The child was located safe in Waukegan and the stolen Volkswagen was located in a parking lot near Casimir Pulaski and Route 43 in Waukegan.
“Thankfully, this ended in the child being unharmed, but had the offenders had different intentions, we can’t say it’d be the same outcome, because of the delay,” Covelli said.
Mark Gillies, a spokesperson for Volkswagen, said in February that the company takes the safety and security of its customers “very seriously.”
“Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement,” Gillies said.
“They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents. Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process. We are addressing the situation with the parties involved,” Gillies added.
Shepherd underwent multiple surgeries for her traumatic injuries and was hospitalized for weeks.
Shepherd gave birth on June 26 to her baby Noah Collin, who is healthy and thriving.
“All of the waiting and all of the unknowns, he has not only survived but he is thriving! I’m so beyond thankful. As I sit and hold my miracle in my arms, all I can see is God’s hand on my life. We have been saved, and today I’m lucky enough to celebrate 35 years of life,” she said in July.
Chicago-based law firm Taxman, Pollock, Murray & Bekkerman recently filed a lawsuit in Cook County on behalf of Shepherd and her husband, Gregory Kovtelidakis.
The 70-page complaint names Volkswagen Group of America, Volkswagen of America and Verizon Connect as defendants.
The suit was filed over the defendants’ refusal to provide the location of the stolen vehicle to law enforcement without payment even after being informed of the violent abduction, the complaint said.
The family said they suffered “extreme emotional distress” due to the delay in locating the abducted child. The family said they were unsure if the boy was dead or alive during that time.