Tip on Crowdfunding Site Led to Arrest of Driver Who Killed Davean Smith

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Davean Smith with her son Bishop Gregory Stapleton.

A suburban man who fatally struck Davean Smith, 48, in Chicago’s Longwood Manoe neighborhood last month, then left the scene, turned himself in after a friend contacted the victim’s family via a crowdfunding site. The driver, Thomas Hicks, has been charged with failure to report a crash resulting in a death.

On Wednesday, August 19, at around 11:30 p.m., Davean Smith was walking in the street on the 9500 block of South Vincennes Avenue on her way to visit a friend, according to authorities. Hicks, a 26-year old Glenwood resident, struck her with his Nissan and continued driving, police said.

Smith was found by a passer-by who notified the police. She was pronounced dead at 12:43 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The following day, Hicks’ roommate noticed that the car had a cracked windshield, damage to the front bumper and passenger-side wheel well, and a broken headlight, according to prosecutors. Hicks soon took the car to be repaired, prosecutors said.

According to a WGN report, Smith’s son Bishop Gregory Stapleton and his family set up a crowdfunding page to help defray funeral expenses. A male friend of Hicks used the website to contact Gregory, writing “My dreams and my heart ain’t been right and I thought maybe you and your people would like to know the truth about things.”

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The 9500 block of South Vincennes. Image: Google Maps

The friend eventually provided a photo of Hicks’ license plate, according to WGN. After the man told Hicks he was in contact with Smith’s family, Hicks turned himself in to the police.

According to prosecutors, Hicks told others that he was out with another woman prior to the crash and had an argument with her. He said he was on his way home alone when he struck Smith, prosecutors said.

During a hearing last Friday, Hicks was ordered held in place of $250,000 bail, according to the Tribune. The next hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, September 23.

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 26 (10 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

  • neroden

    This is a strange contrast to New York City. In New York City, it seems like if a motorist runs over someone, even if the motorist does a hit-and-run, as long as the motorist is sober the police will let him or her get away with it scot free. Even if the license plate is reported the police will refuse to investigate. Occasionally they arrest the witnesses.

    It’s weird for Chicago police to actually be *better* than New York…

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