Just when things were looking up, along came the flood

Mike Wiser

It’s been a brutal year for Kedrick Hawthorne. The 19-year-old father of three spent the first part of the year in jail awaiting trial on a home invasion and aggravated battery charge.

He told anyone who would listen that it wasn’t him, but police and prosecutors weren’t buying it. 

“I was at work at the time,” he said. “It was false arrest.”

Hawthorne didn’t have $10,000 for bail, and spent five months behind bars while his case moved through court. In April, a judge found him not guilty. He was free go back to his family, free to convince his bosses at Steak n’ Shake on Illinois 173 that he should get his job back and free to tell everyone that he was innocent all along. He got his job back and started saving money.

Then came the flood.

The water overtook the rental home where Hawthorne lives with his three children — Ashyia, 2, Mariah, 1, and Kedrick Jr., 5 months — and girlfriend Amy Shields. They were the first family that sheriff’s deputies evacuated from the neighborhood.

“Now all that money’s going to go to this. It’s like I was just starting to start over, and now, I’m back where I was when I just got out of jail,” Hawthorne said. “It’s been a bad year.”

Hawthorne lives, for now, at the Red Cross Shelter set up at Harlem High School. On Wednesday, he was one of about a dozen that were staying there. His mother, Laura Hoglund, offered to take the children to stay with her for a while, because the change is shocking, particularly with Ashyia.

“She just walks around like this,” Hoglund says, dropping her head, slumping her shoulders and hugging herself with her arms like a very shy child would.

“She’s usually a very happy little girl, but she’s not familiar with her surroundings at all.”

Hawthorne said he’s tried to talk to Ashyia about it. He tells her that the family is just going to be here for a while and they’ll be going home soon. But, honestly, he doesn’t know when that will be.

And he’s not sure what he’ll find when he gets there.

“It will smell bad, I think the water’s probably pretty high since we left,” he said. “We have our rent paid up so we’ll be there to clean up for sure. But after the rent runs out, I don’t know.”

Mike Wiser can be reached at (815) 987-1377 or