Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Arthur Johnson, 77, in Gresham

Arthur Johnson. Photo courtesy of the family.

“How do you hit a human being and not even stop to find out if he’s OK?” asked Arthur Johnson’s niece LaQuetta Skinner, in a WGN news report. That’s the central question raised by Chicago’s current hit-and-run epidemic. Out of 12 pedestrian fatalities so far this year, all but one of the motorists fled the scene.

According to the WGN report, Johnson, an elderly Korean War veteran, was a well-loved figure in the Gresham community, where he had lived since 1979. On Wednesday, his 77th birthday, at 7 a.m., he was following his usual routine of walking to the store for the morning paper. While he was crossing South Racine Avenue eastbound at 83rd Street, a northbound female motorist in a Mercedes sedan struck him and continued driving, said Police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada. According to witness Dorothy Hunter-Brown, the driver was speeding at “at least 80 mph,” CBS reported.

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The crash site from the driver’s perspective.

Johnson was thrown six feet in the air and struck his head on the ground, Estrada said. The victim was pronounced dead about an hour later at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The Major Accidents Investigation Unit is looking into the case and has issued a bulletin requesting information about the crash. The Mercedes is described as a dark colored two-door 2002 to 2005 Mercedes C230 with passenger-side windshield and driver-side hood damage. MAIU can be reached at 312-745-4521. Surveillance cameras captured footage of the sedan, so hopefully this video will lead to the apprehension of the motorist.

Relatives are asking the driver to turn herself in. “You’ve claimed this person’s life,” said Skinner. “He’s gone. And, instead of birthday cake and celebration, we’re in there with a funeral director. It’s terrible.”

Fatality Tracker: 2013 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 12 (11 were from hit-and-run crashes, 2 in truck crashes)
Bicyclist: 2

  • Anne A

    I will never understand how someone can do something so horrible to another person and not take responsibility. 80 mph at 7 a.m. on a not-so-fast local street? Even if it was 50 or 60, there is NO excuse to justify that.

  • David P.

    The average person’s ability to accurately estimate the speed of a moving vehicle is notoriously bad. A person hit by a car moving at 80mph probably would not have remained in one piece; more likely the car was moving at something well above the limit but well below that. Nonetheless, your larger point is valid. There’s no legitimate reason or safe way to be moving at faster than about 40mph on nearly any street in the city except LSD.

  • Even 40 mph really isn’t a safe speed for the city, since studies show that people struck at that speed almost always die, whereas survival rates at 30 mph are about 50/50, and people struck at 20 mph almost always live.

  • Anonymous

    This happened in my neighborhood. Very sad. I used to see him at times going grocery shopping or to the neighborhood store. She was speeding near a school zone. She better turn herself in. She is making it harder on herself. R.I.P. Arthur.

  • Joseph Musco

    My heart goes out to the family of this gentleman.

    Why are stop/yellow/green lights placed on the far side of intersections? It seems like if the signal lights were on the same side of the street as the stop box vehicles would have more respect and caution when approaching the pedestrian spaces in the cross walk. I remember old traffic lights hanging on wires when I was a new driver. When you were learning braking sometimes you would go too far and be under the light and that was an obvious violation. Now you can be in the middle of cross traffic and still see the light. What is the safety point of that? It’s an invitation to drivers creeping or crashing beyond the stop line.

    Not that any of this matters if you are doing 80 mph on a city street…

  • Eric Fischer

    In the US, farside signals are the standard pretty much just because a 1935 survey of existing installations found farside to be already the most common and becoming even more common, not because of any new research showing that it was particularly better. Here is the rationale text from the 1935 MUTCD. Nearside seems like it ought to be much better for keeping cars out of the crosswalk.

    (I’ve seen pictures of some median-mounted nearside installations in Chicago that remained in the 1950s and forced some very odd lane configurations when they added left turn pockets. I can understand why they wanted to get rid of those ones.)