By Rosemary Regina Sobol
7:07 AM CST, November 14, 2012
Police continue to search for the driver of a navy blue Volkswagen Beetle that hit and killed a leader in the Tibetan community and injured the man’s brother in law as they crossed a street in the West Rogers Park neighborhood.
Tsering Dorjee had spent Monday helping his brother-in-law find an apartment for his family, expected to arrive from India next month. Around 6 p.m., Dorjee and Dakpa Jorden were crossing the street in the 6400 block of North Maplewood Avenue on their way to get some food when both were struck by a dark blue Volkswagen that kept on driving, police said.
Dorjee, 44, was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was pronounced dead later Monday night, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. Jorden suffered a broken leg and was also taken to Saint Francis.
About noon Tuesday, police found the Volkswagen at Francisco and Albion and towed it away, according to a source. The driver remains at large.
Dorjee worked in the Cook County Clerk’s office for 14 years and was president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce. He leaves behind his wife and three children under 6.
“I don’t know what to do,” said Dorjee's wife, Kalsang Wangmo. “I don’t know what to do now.’’
“My boys are asking, 'Where’s daddy? Where's daddy?' “ she said. They are 6-year-old Tenzin Thinlay, 3-year-old Tenzin Dhargyal, and 1-year-old Tenzin Jordan.
Wangmo said she called her husband’s cell phone several times when he didn’t come home when she expected him to Monday but got no answer. Finally, the hospital called her at 8 p.m. “They said, ‘Your husband is in critical condition, can you come now,' “ Wangmo said, her voice choking with emotion.
She frantically called a relative to watch her boys and got to the hospital before he died. As she sat by her husband’s side, Wangmo said she thought of their children and how she would face life without him. “I don’t know, I don’t know…I have three children,’’ she said, sobbing.
Wangmo said her husband had the day off Monday and was helping her brother find an apartment. He has been living with them, and the rest of his family was coming from India to live in Chicago next month.
Wangmo said she and her husband are both from India. She is from Bangalore, in the Indian state of Karnataka, and her husband was from Himachal in northern India. Dorjee received his U.S. citizenship only two months ago.
While living in India, Dorjee worked for the Tibetan government in exile, according to Lhakpa Tsering, president of the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago. His parents had been born in Tibet.
“It’s very distressing and very disappointing because, in our (small) community, we have very few deaths but they are natural – sickness or old age,” Tsering said.
Dorjee had felt strongly about helping other Tibetans. “He is a Tibetan himself and he believes it is very important to help the community,” Tsering said. “We feel loss because our community is small -- less than 300 people in Chicago.”
Tsering said the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago is planning a prayer ceremony and special gathering to honor him. “He was very active in the Tibetan community because the situation in Tibet is critical,’’ Tsering said. “He really thinks the issues are important.’’
Reuters reported last week that 68 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against Chinese rule over Tibetan regions. At least 56 have died, according to Tibetan rights groups.
Cook County Clerk David Orr released a statement saying Dorjee “was a much-loved member of my Vital Records staff since 1998. Tsering was an incredibly kind soul and dedicated public servant. News of his death this morning brought his coworkers to tears. Our deepest condolences go to his wife, children and family. He will be dearly missed.”
Orr's office set up the Tsering Dorjee Memorial Fund for Dorjee at the Citibank branch, 2801 W. Devon Ave., 773-465-3000.
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