Basketball Recruiter Killed in Hit-and-Run on Speeding-Plagued Division

The crash site as seen from the driver’s perspective. View larger map.

Around 4:15 a.m. on Thursday, April 11, just after the last bars closed, Billy Taylor had picked up some food at Goose Island Shrimp House, 1011 West Division, and was walking back to his car on the other side of the street. A motorist speeding west on Division toward the Kennedy Expressway struck Taylor and then kept driving, dragging him 1,115 feet while fleeing the scene, police said. The victim was found at the Chicago River Bridge on the west side of the island.

Taylor, 40, a basketball recruiter from south suburban Hazel Crest, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from multiple injuries at 8:12 a.m. The hit-and-run driver’s car, a dark-colored, late-model Hyundai Sonata, was captured on security footage, according to Officer Mike Sullivan from Police News Affairs. The Major Accidents Investigation Unit is looking into the case and a community alert was emailed to news agencies; anyone with info about the crash should call (312) 745-4521. As of this morning the driver had not been apprehended, Sullivan said.

Map pin marks the location of Goose Island Shrimp House. View larger map.

Judging from the time the crash occurred, alcohol may have been a factor, but the road layout also encourages the high-speed driving that made this crash especially horrific. Goose Island is an industrial zone and the shrimp house is virtually the only retail in the area. Here Division is a four-lane roadway, and the restaurant is located in the middle of a nearly half-mile segment with no traffic lights, between Halsted and North Branch. While there is a stop sign at Cherry, just west of the business, drivers on Division often ignore it, said an employee who asked to be anonymous.

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Billy Taylor, right.

“Traffic on Division Street is kind of crazy,” he said. “If you come by here at four or five in the afternoon it’s bumper-to-bumper, but late at night we get people just flying down the street.” There is a red light camera at Division and Halsted, he added. “I say they should put a speed camera up here. They should have the traffic people come out here an assess the situation.”

The employee noted that several customers standing outside the restaurant must have witnesses the crash. “There were definitely people who saw it who should come forward,” he said. “Maybe they can bring some closure to the situation.”

Taylor’s friends and colleague are mourning the loss of a man they say had a deep knowledge of his sport and was a mentor to young people. “Kids really respected him because he could envision a career path for a player,” said NBA agent Mike Naiditch, a friend of the victim, in a CBS Chicago news report.

“If you want to get into Chicago basketball, you’ve got to get to know Billy Taylor, because he [knew] everybody,” said agent John Spencer in the CBS report. “He really cared about these kids.”

Fatality Tracker: 2013 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 6 (5 were from hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 0

View previous 2013 Fatality Tracker posts.

  • Anonymous

    There are many other streets like this in Chicago that are troubled by high speed traffic. https://www.facebook.com/FosterSafety

    The Chicago Department of Transportation seems to focus on ways to make traffic flow more smoothly and faster – and often disregards the safety issue and pedestrians as well. The focus needs to shift away from cars, and enabling cars to save 30-seconds on getting from place to place.

  • This definitely still seems to be the case with the Illinois DOT, but CDOT has announced they’ll be pushing a pedestrians-first policy with their new Complete Streets Guide: http://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/04/12/complete-streets-guidelines-codify-principles-of-multi-modal-streets/

    However, CDOT recently rejected a proposal to do a road diet on Foster Avenue near Gompers Park, a place where dozens of residents have asked for ped safety improvements. http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130411/mayfair/community-group-asks-for-safer-foster-ave-after-pedestrian-close-calls?cid=253909&group_hood_id=129606. We should have an update on Foster soon.

  • Fred

    It seems like there is an inordinate number of accidents on Goose Island between this and people driving off the edge into the river. I wonder why that is.

  • Anonymous

    How does this project relate to the parallel I-290 add-a-lane, take-away-a-lane proposal for the section starting at the west edge of the Circle Interchange boundary and extending west to roughly Mannheim?

    First, it was the failed Hillside Strangler improvement. Next, it was to be the ill-advised I-290 add-a-lane, and now the Circle Interchange. How much money are we throwing at I-290 road-oriented solutions to mis-identified urban transportation needs, all the while knowing that the huge investments will be ineffective in achieving their stated goals and fall far short of their all-too-optimistic benefit projections? The corridor was built with great foresight as the first multimodal highway/rail corridor in the nation; however, every major capital investment since that time has been to expand road capacity, correct geometric deficiencies, and improve travel time and safety.

    Where has that single-minded strategy delivered us?

    We have a very complete road network. People can get to anywhere they wish by way of car. We do not need more capacity and greater speed to travel farther, faster. Heck, even IDOT’s own unrealistic projections find that their projects are unable to solve congestion. Their claims of multimodal interest and support are disingenuous – simply follow the money.

    When can we start making smart decisions?

  • I think you made this comment on the wrong post. Can you make it again on the Circle Interchange post?

  • Anonymous

    Oops. lol