Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Fallen Cyclist Barbara Eno Goes to Trial in March

Barbara Eno. Photo courtesy of the family
Barbara Eno. Photo courtesy of the family

The wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver who fatally struck cyclist Barbara “Barbie” Eno in summer 2014 will finally be going to trial this March, according to an attorney for the family.

On the morning of July 3, 2014, the 28-year-old Portage Park resident had cycled to the Secretary of State’s office to replace a stolen ID and was returning to her home on the 4800 block of West Addison, DNAinfo reported. At about 10:35 am, she was biking north on Cicero just south of Belmont, according police. As the light turned green, northbound Ozinga Concrete truck driver Sinaria Lee, 51 at the time, made a right turn and fatally struck Eno. She was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where she was pronounced dead about an hour after the crash. Lee was not cited with any traffic violations.

Last year three other young women were fatally struck while biking in Chicago by right-turning truck drivers who failed to yield: 25-year-old Virginia Murray, 20-year-old Lisa Kuivinen, and 23-year-old Anastasia Kondrasheva. A fourth woman, 18-year-old Chuyuan Qiu, was run over and killed by a concrete truck driver while cycling in Evanston. It’s possible that truck side guards could have made a difference in all five of these cases by preventing the cyclists from going under the wheels of the vehicles.

According to Eno family lawyer John MacInerney, from the personal injury firm Hofeld and Schaffner, attorneys for both sides are currently completing the process of discovery, the sharing of evidence between the two sides. The case is expected will go to trial in March.

MacInerney said Lee was stopped at the light at Belmont and Cicero when Eno rode up along side his truck. While a police surveillance camera shot footage of the incident shortly before and after the crash, the rotating camera did capture the moment of impact.

The truck was allegedly stopped at the left side of the doublewide right lane, which created an open lane for the cyclist. Image: Google Street View
The truck was allegedly stopped at the left side of the doublewide right lane, which created an open lane for the cyclist. Image: Google Street View

However, a second trucker following Lee testified that he did witness the crash. “He saw the truck impinging on Barbara’s space,” MacInerney said. “She was struck in the shoulder and put up her hand and tried to protect herself, but she was caught by the truck and was struck and dragged.”

Lee claimed that he signaled his turn, although one of his right turn signal lights was broken, according to MacInerney. But the second truck driver testified that Lee failed to signal the turn.

MacInerney said Lee’s lane position was also problematic. Truck drivers are trained to keep the right side of their vehicle as close to the curb as possible when making turns, the attorney said. While the easternmost lane of Cicero is a doublewide lane, about 20 feet wide, the concrete truck was positioned to the left side of the lane, which means there was about eight feet of open road between the truck and the curb, according to McInerney. “[Eno] didn’t know he was going to turn, and he was in a position where he was not supposed to be, so there was essentially an open lane for her.”

Lee also testified that he checked his rearview mirror before turning but Eno was in his blind spot. “But he would have seen her if he had, in fact, looked backward,” MacInerney said.

According to the attorney, before the cyclist’s life was cut short, she had been working as a salesperson at a Home Depot. Described by family and friends as an animal lover, Eno had been planning to return to college and was interested in studying Marine biology.

Although the court date has not been scheduled, it will take place sometime in mid-March at the Daley Center and will be open to the public, according to MacInerney. This post will be updated once the date is announced.

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