Amazon Driver Who Killed Telesfora Escamilla, 84, Charged With Misdemeanors

Telesfora Escamilla
Telesfora Escamilla

A van driver working for a service that delivers for Amazon fatally struck longtime Little Village resident Telesfora Escamilla, 84, on Thursday afternoon.

At about 3:30 p.m., the mother of six was walking home from getting a haircut, police say. Valdimar C. Gray, 29, was driving west on 28th Street and turned south onto Drake, striking Escamilla in the crosswalk. According to witnesses Gray had swerved around a car in front of him and blown a stop sign.

Witness Oscar Fernandez told WLS that Gray dragged the woman for about 30 feet. Fernandez said after he witnessed the crash, he jumped out of his own car and flagged down a nearby Cook County sheriff’s deputy. “He knew he did something. He was just screaming, ‘I can’t believe I did this! I can’t believe I did this!'” Fernandez said.

Escamilla, who lived two blocks east of the crash site, on the 2800 block of South Trumbull Avenue, was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to police. According to an NBC report, one of the responding officer’s was the victim’s grandson.

Gray, of the 3400 block of West Chicago Avenue in East Garfield Park was cited for disregarding stop sign, striking a pedestrian in a right of way, and driving without a license or insurance. He’s due in traffic court on February 7.

The crash site. Image: Google Street View
The crash site. Image: Google Street View

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and loved ones during this difficult time,” read a statement from an Amazon spokesman. “Any accident that occurs is one too many and we will work with police and the delivery service provider as they investigate.”

“It’s the holiday season, I know, but people gotta take their time,” a male relative of Escamilla told WGN.”

Escamilla had lived in Little Village for almost 60 years and enjoyed attending church and spending time with her family, relatives said. According to her obituary, she worked at Crown Cork & Seal company for 30 years and had 18 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

“She loved her walks,” her daughter-in-law Joann Escamilla told WGN. “We just saw her this morning and she was happy. She was getting ready for the holidays… I just hope that she gets justice for what this person did to her,” she said. “She didn’t deserve to die this way.”

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 21 (nine were hit-and-run crashes)*
Bicyclist: 6 (one was a hit-and-run crash)

*Streetsblog Chicago’s fatality tracker is based on news reports. On November 2, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that there had been 29 pedestrian fatalities in the city as of September 30, according to preliminary police data. CDOT has not released data on the number of hit-and-run pedestrian crashes.

Streetsblog Chicago will resume publication on Tuesday. Have a safe weekend.

  • what_eva

    Hopefully your headline ends up being wrong. CPD can issue a misdemeanor ticket (which they did). It’s up to the Cook County State’s Attorney to decide to upgrade it to felony charges. There’s a death due to reckless driving, IMO that needs to be upgraded.

  • planetshwoop

    How awful. I’m sorry for the family’s loss.

    This struck me: “delivery service provider”. I get that Amazon probably uses other companies instead of their own temp employees. Just hope that to win at last mile delivery they aren’t cutting corners and putting the rest of us in danger.

  • kastigar

    3:30 in the afternoon, he speeds around a car stopped at a stop sign, drives through the stop sign, doesn’t have a drives license or insurance – and he get a MISDEMEANOR charge?

    He should spend time in jail.

  • Someone from the delivery service and someone from Amazon should face consequences as well. Jail time is not appropriate as jail in The U.S. is cruel punishment. It is a form of torture in many cases. Since he did not intend to kill her but was negligent driving banning him forever from driving could be a minimum consequence. If he is caught driving again jail becomes reasonable. At least in a reasonable country it would.

    The delivery company should lose its contract. No due diligence on their part.

    Amazon counts on incorporation and contracting of services to shield them from consequence. But the real issue with Amazon is they are too big. Way too big. Obscenely too big. Their business practices distort economic activity in dysfunctional ways. The dire situation of the poor and the devolution of the middle class into economic hardships stems from their voracious rapacious aggrandizement. Their’s and all of the other so called neo liberal coroposte fellow travelers of the too big to be be challenged variety. It is that reality that led to the great 2016 search for a populist leadership willing to take them on.

  • Kelly Pierce

    This story is so sad, particularly when the officer had to
    find his grandmother dead in the street. It is sadder when the root cause is
    likely corporate greed. A recent report in the Los Angeles Times found that
    Amazon has a high delivery goal for its contracted drivers with people regularly
    not being able to deliver all the packages in a shift. Drivers are issued Android phones and the
    phone has a map of the delivery route each day for the driver. The progress of the deliveries is tracked in
    real time by Amazon and if the pace of the deliveries is slower than what
    Amazon’s computers believe it should be, Amazon contacts the delivery company
    and complains about the driver before finishing the route. Drivers are under incredible pressure to
    deliver packages quickly because slowish drivers will be terminated.

  • Miles Bader

    How good is their record in doing such “upgrading”…?

  • neroden

    You can go to jail on a misdemeanor.

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