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Ghost bike memorial for Bobby Cann. Photo: John Greenfield

It may be a long road to justice for Robert “Bobby” Cann, the bicyclist who was killed by an allegedly drunk, speeding driver last spring in Old Town. There was little progress during a brief court hearing for motorist Ryne San Hamel last Friday, and it will likely be several months until the police department’s Major Accidents Investigation Unit releases a report that may move the case forward, according to victim advocate Sharon Johnson.

The deadly crash took place on the evening of May 29 on the 1300 block of North Clybourn. Cann, 26, had left work at the nearby Groupon offices by bike when San Hamel, 28, fatally struck him. The driver has been charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving, and failure to stay in the lane.

At the previous hearing on October 7, the defense formally motioned to reclaim San Hamel’s Mercedes as well as personal belongings in the car, such as a computer and clothing. Judge William Hooks denied the request because, due to the serious nature of the case, the state doesn’t want to return the vehicle until the crash investigation is complete.

Kate Conway, an attorney for Cann’s family, predicted the driver might make another attempt to reclaim his vehicle at Friday’s hearing, but no motion was filed, according to Sharon Johnson from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. “Major Accidents isn’t finished with the car, and it looks like they won’t be finished for a few months,” Johnson said. “I'm not sure why San Hamel wants the car back, since it’s completely totaled.” She speculated that he might need the vehicle in order to file an insurance claim.

Honorary Bobby Cann Way ceremony
The crowd at the street-naming ceremony for Cann on October 25. Photo: Steven Vance

Johnson said it usually takes six months for the MAIU to issue a crash report. “They are probably checking for San Hamel’s DNA on the car and taking measurements as evidence that he was driving, although the three other people in the car with him have verified this,” she said. Johnson doesn’t expect Major Accidents will release its report until January or February. “They’re handling every major crash investigation in the city, so they’re pretty backed up.”

Friday’s status hearing lasted less than a minute; it appears that the two sides simply reported to the judge that there was no major change in status. However, there was a strong show of solidarity for Cann, with at least 30 supporters in attendance, including several family members who flew in from the East Coast. “When the family comes in, Bobby’s friends make sure they are not by themselves,” Johnson said. San Hamel’s parents also attended the hearing.

The next status hearing takes place on Friday, December 20, at 10 a.m. at the Cook County Courthouse, 26th and California, in room 301. This will be another opportunity for the two sides to exchange information, including medical reports on Cann and San Hamel, Johnson said. “I don’t expect a lot to happen over the next couple of months,” she said. “Right now it’s just getting the paperwork together.”

On October 25, over 75 people showed up to the crash site for a street-naming ceremony in Cann’s honor. At the event, his mother Maria urged those present to challenge the culture of drunk driving, noting that a memorial website, Ride On Bobby, has been launched with information about DUI prevention and safe biking. The site also includes eulogies and tributes to Cann, as well as a few inspirational words from the cyclist himself.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has been blocking the city of Chicago from installing protected bike lanes on state-jurisdiction streets. At the ceremony 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett announced that Clybourn will be the first state road to receive a protected lane. We’ll try to provide an update on this project soon.

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