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Maria Gonzalez, 5, Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in Chicago Lawn

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Maria Gonzalez

Chicago should have effective traffic enforcement and forgiving street design, so that if a small child runs across a residential street, she doesn’t pay for the mistake with her life. Sadly, that was not the case for Maria Gonzalez, a five-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver last Saturday afternoon in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.

At around 3:15 p.m., Maria was doing homework with her mother in her kitchen on the 5900 block of South Mozart when she heard an ice cream truck and ran across the street to buy a treat, NBC Chicago reported. On her way back, she was fatally struck by the driver of a dark-colored car, police said. According to her father Juan, who was working in the yard, the car seemed to be going more than 40 mph. The girl was thrown about 30 feet, and she died on the way to the hospital, her father said.

A neighbor’s security camera provided footage of the driver speeding down Mozart, NBC reported. Police say they are looking for a two-door, dark-colored Honda Civic with a dull or primer finish, with a sunroof and a spoiler. The car may have a front-end bra, a sport muffler, and a broken headlight. The driver was last seen traveling west on 60th Street from Mozart. Information can be provided to Major Accidents at 312-745-4521.

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Image from security footage of the hit-and-run driver.

Local residents say they want to change their street to help prevent tragedies like this in the future. Maria’s neighbor Jose Anaya told NBC he plans to collect signatures in support of installing speed humps on the block.

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 14 (5 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

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Man Dies After CTA Bus-Pedestrian Crash in Canaryville

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The crash site. Image: Google Street View

A 62-year-old man has died after being fatally struck by a CTA bus driver in the Canaryville neighborhood.

On Monday evening at 9:06 p.m., the man “tripped and fell into the intersection” at 43rd and Halsted streets, according to Officer Stacey Cooper from Police News Affairs. He was then struck by the driver of a northbound CTA bus, Cooper said.

The victim was transported to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Cooper said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the man as Erroll Ellison, from the 4200 block of South Princeton Avenue.

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 13 (4 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

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Driver Exiting the Ryan Fatally Strikes Woman in West Chatham

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The crash site, looking north. Image: Google Maps

A speeding driver who was exiting the Dan Ryan Expressway in the West Chatham neighborhood fatally struck a woman in her 20s who was crossing the street, police said.

Around 10 p.m. on Sunday, the woman, who has not yet been identified, was crossing South Lafayette Avenue at 87th Street in the crosswalk at the north leg of the intersection, according to police. The driver, a 23-year-old man, was heading south on Lafayette in a Volkswagen Passat “at a high rate of speed” after exiting the expressway, when he struck the victim, police said.

The woman’s body shattered the windshield, according to police. She was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Her name has not yet been released by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The motorist and a female passenger, 24, were transported to Trinity Hospital in good condition and released this morning into police custody, according to police. Charges are pending. Major Accidents is investigating the case and has not yet announced whether alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

A local resident, who asked to be anonymous, told ABC News she uses this crosswalk, which is near the Red Line’s 87th Street station, on a daily basis, and turning drivers often fail to stop for pedestrians. “People cross and then when the cars turn, like when I’m getting off work, they don’t want to stop,” she said. “They don’t want us to walk.”

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 12 (4 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

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Driver Charged With Murder After Road Rage Leads to Death of Pedestrian

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The crash site. Image: Google Maps

A Gary woman has been charged with murder and aggravated DUI after a domestic dispute escalated into road rage incident, resulting in the death of a bystander in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, authorities said.

Early on Sunday morning, Shakita Woods, 33, got in a drunken argument with her new husband, 28, at a gas station at Garfield Boulevard and Wells Street, police said. The man struck her and then left the scene as a passenger in a maroon Buick, according to police. Woods got in her red Pontiac and chased the vehicle, police said.

At around 3:05 a.m., Woods intentionally struck the Buick near Garfield and State Street, causing the male driver to lose control, police said. He crashed into at least three other vehicles, hit a light pole, and careened into Brent Nelson, 51, who was standing on the corner, according to police.

Nelson was transported to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:52 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The male driver and Woods’ husband were taken to Mercy Hospital, where their condition were stabilized, police said.

Woods,of the 800 block of West 19th Avenue in Gary, was charged with first-degree murder, reckless homicide, and aggravated DUI, according to police. She was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of DUI, one misdemeanor count of driving on a revoked license, and various other traffic citations. She was due in bond court today.

Area Central is investigating the case. NBC reported that a nearby liquor store has surveillance video of the crash, which police are now reviewing.

Fatality Tracker: 2015 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 11 (4 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (both were hit-and-run crashes)

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Twice as Many Pedestrian and Bike Deaths So Far in 2015 as Previous Years

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Elizabeth Peralta-Luna and her two children were fatally struck by a semi driver in March.

So far, 2015 has been a deadly year for pedestrian and bike crashes in Chicago. By this time in 2013, there had been six pedestrian fatalities, including three hit-and-runs, and no bike fatalities. By mid-April of 2014, there had also been six pedestrian deaths, five of which were hit-and-runs, and zero bike deaths. However, as of last Sunday, there have been ten pedestrians fatalities this year, including four hit-and-runs, and two bike fatalities, both of which involved drivers who fled. Here’s a recap of the cases.

On New Year’s Day, at about 1:30 a.m., a hit-and-run minivan driver fatally struck Aimer Roblado, 30, as he rode his bike on the 4700 block of West Division in West Humboldt Park. Robledo, a construction worker and DJ who lived on the 1400 block of North Avers, was cycling east when he was struck by the driver of a dark-colored minivan, who fled the scene. The victim was pronounced dead two hours later. Major Accidents is investigating the case.

On Friday, January 2, at around 1:20 p.m., a pickup truck driver fatally struck Nancy Sell, 59, on the 7500 block of North Clark Street in Rogers Park. Sell, who lived nearby on the 7400 block of North Greenview, was a cancer awareness advocate who had previously been struck by a bus driver and had undergone six months of physical therapy to learn how to walk and talk again, according to DNAinfo. She died on Saturday, January 10, from brain injuries sustained in the recent crash. The driver of the Ford F-250 received several tickets.

On Friday, January 15, at about 6:25 a.m., an SUV driver struck and killed Maria Hernandez, 58, in the 3600 block of West Addison in Avondale, by the Addison Blue Line station. The motorist, 41, exited the Kennedy Expressway northbound and then made a left turn to go west on Addison. She struck Hernandez as the pedestrian was crossing Addison northbound in a crosswalk. Hernandez, who lived nearby on the 3800 block of West Addison, was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Police did not cite the driver, the Tribune reported.

On Saturday, January 17, at around 10:10 p.m., car driver Jose Estrada, 24, fatally struck pedestrians Raman Cruz, 36, and Pablo Esquivel-Vega, believed to be in his 50s, on the 4300 block of West North Avenue in Hermosa. The victims were crossing North Avenue when Estrada struck them with his 2002 Buick and allegedly sped away, the Tribune reported. The two men were pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Estrada collided with three parked vehicles a few blocks from the scene of the first crash and was apprehended by police. Prosecutors said the driver had a blood-alcohol content of 0.157, almost twice the legal limit. He was charged with two felony counts of aggravated DUI, plus a misdemeanor charge and failure to reduce speed.

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Hit-and-Run Driver Killed Cyclist Aimer Robledo on New Year’s Day

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Aimer Robledo

2015 had a tragic start for the family of Aimer Robledo, a Humboldt Park man who was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he rode his bike home in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Robledo, 30, worked in construction and catering, and also DJed Mexican music at parties. On New Year’s Eve, he threw a party at his home on the 1400 block of North Avers, where he lived with other family members, DNAinfo reported.

At about 1:30 a.m., as the party was ending, nephew Raphael Hernandez told DNA that Robledo decided to ride his bike to go visit a friend. Hernandez added that his uncle hadn’t been drinking prior to leaving his party. After wishing the friend a happy New Year, Robledo stopped nearby to visit his own wife and two daughters, ages eight and nine, who lived separately from him. 

Around 2:40 a.m., Robledo was riding home from his wife’s house when the driver of a dark-colored minivan struck him under a railroad viaduct on the 4700 block of West Division, according to Officer Veejay Zala from Police News Affairs. This industrial stretch of Division has wide lanes and few intersections, which encourages speeding.

Robledo suffered a head injury but was still breathing when the ambulance arrived, Hernandez told DNA. Robledo was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:37 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

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“Good Son” Fatally Struck After Car’s Passenger Grabs Steering Wheel

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The crash site, on the 5300 block of S. Western Avenue. Image: Google Streetview

A Gage Park man was struck and killed earlier this month after a passenger in a car punched the driver and yanked on the steering wheel, police said.

Columbia College student and Redbox employee Eddie Fuentes, 24, was serving as a designated driver after a holiday party two weekends ago, ABC reported. In the early morning of Sunday, December 21, Fuentes dropped off his last passenger and stopped for a snack at a hot dog stand on the 5300 block of South Western, according to ABC. He was still wearing a Santa Claus outfit from the party, ABC reported.

Around 3:10 a.m., Kenya Thomas, 29, was driving southbound on Western in a Chevrolet Impala with three passengers, police said. Thomas’ husband Jason Rayford, 30, began arguing with the two other passengers, according to prosecutors.

After Thomas intervened, Rayford punched her and pulled the steering wheel to the right, prosecutors said. This caused the car to crash into Fuentes, who was standing next to his vehicle, according to prosecutors. Fuentes was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead around 8 a.m. from a traumatic brain injury, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.

Rayford, of the 11300 block of South Stewart, was charged with reckless homicide and misdemeanor battery, according to police. At a hearing the following Tuesday, prosecutors said Rayford fled the crash scene on foot and was apprehended a few blocks away. The judge set bail at $100,000. Thomas was also charged with a misdemeanor DUI and driving without a license, according to police.

“The only thing I ask is justice for my son,” Fuentes’ mother Laticia Monarrez told ABC. “Because if anyone knows my Eddie, he was a good son.”

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 25 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 8 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

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Driver Fatally Strikes 53-Year-Old Woman in Wicker Park

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The entrance to the CVS parking lot. Image: Google Streetview

Last night, a young woman driving out of a drug store parking lot struck and killed a female pedestrian in Wicker Park, according to Officer Janel Sedovic from News Affairs.

At about 7:40 p.m., Samar Khan, 23, was exiting the parking lot of the CVS at 1200 North Ashland in her Nissan Juke mini-SUV, Sedovic said. The lot’s driveway passes through the building and abruptly crosses the sidewalk on Division.

As Khan, of the 1200 block of North Cleaver in Noble Square, turned left to head east on Division, she struck a 53-year-old woman who was “standing in the street,” Sedovic said.

A police source noted that the pedestrian was “intoxicated” and “was wearing all black clothing.” However, the police report did not include details about the movements of the driver or the pedestrian.

The victim was taken to Stroger hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, Sedovic said. As of early this afternoon, the Cook County medical examiner’s office had not released the woman’s identity.

Khan was cited for failure to exercise due care to avoid a collision with a pedestrian in the roadway. Major Accidents is investigating.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 24 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 8 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

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Cyclist Dies a Few Weeks After Being Struck by 89-Year-Old Driver


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The crash site at Lincoln, Addison and Ravenswood.

A bicyclist who was struck from behind by an elderly driver in September has died from his injuries.On September 27, around 7:35 p.m., Joseph Korner was bicycling north near 3559 North Lincoln in Lakeview, according to Officer José Estrada from Police News Affairs. Korner, 78, was struck from behind by Reverend Evaristo Loaiza, 89 at the time, Estrada said. Loaiza was driving a Mazda sedan.

Korner, of the 2100 block of West Belle Plaine, about a mile north on Lincoln from the crash site, was transported to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, according to Estrada. Although Korner’s condition was initially stabilized, he was pronounced dead last Thursday at 9:26 p.m., the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy conducted Friday found he died from complications from his injuries.

Laoiza, now 90, was cited for failing to reduce speed to prevent a crash, according to Estrada. He last appeared in court on October 17.

This case serves as a reminder of the need for better screening of elderly drivers, to ensure that they can still safely operate a two-ton vehicle. Studies show that, after age 70, drivers are twice as likely to be involved in fatal crashes, per mile driven, as they were when middle-aged. After age 85, they are nine times more dangerous to themselves and others.

Korner’s death is the eighth Chicago bike fatality so far in 2014. This is a sharp increase from last year, when there were only four bike fatalities.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 23 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 8 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

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Pedestrian Lida Xhelo Killed After SUV Driver Collides With Another Vehicle


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The crash site.

A Belmont-Craigin woman is dead after being struck by an SUV driver who had crashed into a second car.

Around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, the SUV driver was traveling south on Austin Avenue and made an abrupt left turn to head east on Belmont Avenue, according to Officer José Estrada from Police News Affairs. The driver struck another motorist’s car and then careened northbound, Estrada said.

The SUV driver then struck a woman on the north sidewalk of Belmont, just east of Austin, Estrada said. A photo posted by ABC7 shows that the vehicle crashed through a wrought-iron fence and came to rest on the front lawn of St. Patrick High School.

The woman was transported to Our Lady of Resurrection Medical Center and pronounced dead at 7:03 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. She was identified as Lida Xhelo, of the 6000 block of West Eddy, a block south of the crash site, the medical examiner’s office said.

The SUV driver is in custody and charges are pending, Estrada said.

Updated November 6: Police have identified the SUV driver as Maciej Machniewicz, 45, of the 4400 block of West Barry. He was charged with a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence that resulted in a death. He was also cited three misdemeanors, including for driving without a license. Machniewicz is scheduled to appear in bond court today.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 23 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 7 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)