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.
“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)
View previous 2013 Fatality Tracker posts.