Man Killed Sunday Was 4th Person Fatally Struck on North Avenue This Year


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The 2700 Block of West North Avenue.

A man killed by an allegedly drunk driver Sunday is the latest in a series of people fatally struck on speeding-plagued North Avenue, in 2014.

Around 8:25 p.m. Sunday, a 55-year-old man was crossing northbound on the 2700 block of North Avenue near Cermak Produce, according to Officer Janel Sedovic from Police News Affairs. The man’s identity has not yet been released, pending notification of his next of kin, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Sean Riley, 33, of the 1400 block of North Bell, was driving eastbound when he struck the victim. He stayed on the scene following the crash. The victim was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Riley was found to have a blood alcohol content level above the legal limit of .08 percent, according to Sedovic. He has been charged with felony aggravated DUI resulting in an a death, operating a vehicle without insurance, and fail to exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian in the roadway. A bond hearing is scheduled for today.

The victim was the fourth person fatally struck by a driver on North this year. On April 21, Kim Kyeyul, 72, rear-ended a semi truck with his car on North just east of the Kennedy Expressway. After he exited his car to talk to the other driver, a second trucker killed him.

On April 24, Jennie Davis was crossing in the 5500 block of North Avenue in Austin when a speeding motorist fatally struck her – a similar scenario to this latest crash. And On Sunday, June 1, an out-of-control SUV driver fatally struck Charles Jones, 73, who was reportedly standing in the street just west of the Kennedy.

Most of these cases involved a too-fast driver and/or a difficult pedestrian crossing. In general, North is a five lane street with two travel lanes in each direction, a turn lane, and parking lanes. By Cermak Produce, the street is 76 feet wide, and that excess width encourages speeding and creates a long crossing distance for pedestrians.

car stuck in a building, North & Kedzie, Chicago

A driver crashed into this building at 3200 W. North on 7/10/11. The motorist suffered broken legs. Photo: Katherine Hodges

North, designated as Illinois Route 64, is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation, and so far the state has prioritized maintaining traffic flow over creating safe conditions for all road users. In general, the state has been unreceptive to requests by residents to improve pedestrian safety by adding infrastructure such as refuge islands and curb bumpouts. However, an island was recently added on the 2900 block, by the Humboldt Park green space.

Nearby residents agree that something needs to be done to reduce the number of crashes on North. “North Avenue needs either speed cameras or some way to curb drivers from going so fast on that strip,” commented Richard W. Biasi on DNAinfo.com’s writeup of the latest fatality. “I have personally witnessed four vehicle / pedestrian incidents in the last few weeks on North Ave.”

Streetsblog Chicago reader David Altenberg had a similar comment on my post about the Davis case. “In the last five years, I have seen three separate buildings with vehicles crashed into them on North Avenue,” he wrote. “Unsignalized crosswalks… are terrifying and dangerous to cross, but crossing at a signal often requires a detour of up to a quarter-mile. IDOT has designed North Avenue to move cars quickly, and it meets that goal tragically well.”

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 18 (5 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 4 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)