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.
“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.