CHICAGO – The Sterling DCFS worker severely beaten Sept. 29 while picking up a child in Milledgeville died this morning at a Chicago hospital, a local union official and friend of the family said.
Pamela Sue Knight was 59.
Knight, of Dixon, was being treated at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, but was transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital on Feb. 4 for emergency surgery, her family said in a post on CaringBridge.org.
The reason for the surgery was not specified.
Knight still was in intensive care at Northwestern at the time of her death, said Kathy Lane, president of AFSCME Local 448, who was notified of Knight's death around 8:15 a.m.
An autopsy will be conducted Friday.
Before the surgery, Knight, who no longer could speak, was working with therapists to communicate using eye movements, and was able to answer questions that way. She also was undergoing physical therapy to help her regain movement in her arms and legs.
Andrew Sucher, 25, of Rock Falls, was indicted Dec. 7 on charges of attempted first-degree murder, which carries at least 6 to 30 years in prison, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, and aggravated battery of a state employee, each of which carries 2 to 5 years in prison.
He's accused of kicking Knight in the head so severely that he fractured her skull, causing permanent brain damage that also led to her extensive physical disabilities. Knight had arrived at Sucher's parents' home in Milledgeville to take a 2-year-old boy into protective custody when she was attacked.
Sucher is being held at Stephenson County Jail on $275,000 bond.
Carroll County State's Attorney Scott Brinkmeier could not be reached for comment this morning on whether or when those charges would be increased.
Knight is survived by her husband, Don Knight, and daughter Jennifer Hollenbeck.
Preston Schilling Funeral Home in Dixon will be handling arrangements, Lane said.
Lane asks people to "keep the family in your prayers," and to honor Pam's memory by recognizing her devotion and dedication to her job, and the devotion and dedication of all those who work for the Department of Children and Family Services.
"We're there to help children, we're not there to wreck families or take their children away forever," Lane said. "We're the first responders. We’re there to help people, we're not there to cause harm. Our mission is to help everyone, and it's important for people to know that."
A mental evaluation for Sucher was ordered Jan. 9; a status hearing on the report, which was to take about a month to complete, is set for Feb. 23 in Carroll County Court.
The report, being done by Dr. Joel Eckert of Peoria, will help determine, among other things, whether Sucher is fit to stand trial, is able to aid in his own defense, and whether he was sane at the time of the attack of which he is accused.
Sucher also is charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, which carries 3 to 7 years.
Officials say he was being moved to another cell in the Carroll County Jail around 3:40 p.m. Dec. 19 when he became "verbally combative" and punched Chief Deputy Craig Dimmick in the face. The status of that case also will be heard Feb. 23.
Sucher also has pleaded not guilty in Whiteside County to aggravated battery of a child, which carries 2 to 5 years, and battery, domestic battery, and interfering with the reporting of a domestic battery, all misdemeanors.
He is accused of dragging a 6-year-old by the foot and striking him in the face with a squirt gun, and of throwing a woman against a wall and taking her phone in a July 29 incident.
He was out on bond in that case when Knight was attacked. It's on hold while the Carroll County case proceeds.