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)

  • CL

    Wow, what a sad story. While I suppose it’s possible that age wasn’t a factor, 89 years old is an age where driving should really be avoided.

    This is also a reason to think twice before we do things like eliminate the #11 bus. If a route primarily serves seniors, keeping it might be best for everyone even if total ridership numbers are a bit low. Seniors need to have options so that when the day comes, they can stop driving without losing their mobility.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Though it may not be the case in this instance, its incumbent upon bikers to do everything they can to be seen in the dark, especially at a distance. I’m not blaming the victim. But I see too many bikers after dark with nothing but a two inch round round reflector on the back of the bike. No other light, wearing dark clothing. That little reflector cant be seen from 25 feet out a lot of times. And that reflector is oftentimes 18 inches from the ground, not necessarily where a driver’s eyes are focused. A reflector bar on the back of the seat would be better visually or a light on an armband better.

    I am sure there are plenty of studies showing better lights equate to better safety, why they are not published here is amazing.

  • No studies needed, it’s just common sense that one should use lights while biking at night. As a matter of fact, Steven has led a campaign called “Get Lit,” which distributes free lights to cyclists who need them.

  • Fred

    I find your stance on lights to be very hypocritical. When talking about helmets, you say they should not be pushed because they are a barrier to entry into cycling, and the streets should be safe enough that you don’t need one. But when it comes to lights, its common sense to ride with one? Aren’t they both basic safety devices? Shouldn’t the streets be designed safely enough that you don’t need them?

  • The big difference between lights and helmets is that lights prevent crashes while helmets just mitigate the effects of crashes. In countries with a very low bike crash fatality rates, helmet uses uncommon but everybody uses lights at night.

  • rohmen

    While I agree that cyclists should really use both front and rear lights at night at all times—if nothing else because a front light is a legal requirement and will likely come up as a contributory negligence factor if you get hit while not using one—that stretch of Lincoln is lit up like a Christmas tree from my recollection.

    On side streets, I can buy the argument that a driver has a hard time seeing a cyclist not using lights, but on most major streets in Chicago, such as Lincoln, I doubt a driver wouldn’t be able to see a cyclist in time to react even without a rear light—unless the driver is 89 years old and has failing eyesight to begin with…..

  • Voltaire

    This intersection is part of my daily commute – it’s bright, even at night.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Three of the four riders I saw today had no back fender and no reflector on the back of their bikes. I frankly don’t care about contributory negligence, because, I don’t want to hit a bike. Hashing it out in court at a later date will not make it better for anyone involved in a crash.

    Any light or reflector is better than none, but a reflector larger than 2″ in diameter would certainly help. And your street may be well lit today, but how many times to you see an entire block of street lights out? It’s not just 89 year olds with failing eyesight, its all of us who need to be able to spot the biker and allow for clearance for safety sake.

  • rohmen

    I’m definitely not advocating for cyclists not to use lights, and, no mater what anyone’s opinion on the matter is anyway, the law requires a front light and a rear light/reflector. So the cyclist’s you’re anecdotaly complaining about were violating the law.

    In this situation, however, where a cyclist was travelling on a well-lit section of a major street in the City, I’m not going to give a 89-year-old the benefit of the doubt that he hit the cyclist because the cyclist “maybe” wasn’t using a light. There is no way that a driver with proper vision can’t see a cyclist riding on Lincoln at night whether that cyclist is using lights or not–assuming the driver still has acceptable vision to be driving in the first place.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    But your contention that all streets are well lit, and drivers should be able to react in time whether or not bikes have a light is just phooey. Not all streets are well lit, some blocks are better than others and not all bikes are visible until you are very close. So what’s wrong with making sure bikers are doing everything possible to be visible after dark? Just as its the driver’s responsibility to see the biker its paramount bikers do everything to be seen.

  • Carmin

    For what it is worth, that is also along the stretch of Lincoln that has no bus service which could possible contribute to either person deciding to bike or drive instead of bus. Buses really are critical for safe elderly independence.

  • lk

    Please do not blame my husband for causing his own death. The 89 year old had been rented a car because he had a clean driving record and the rental company could not deny him. He wanted the car to visit his wife in a nursing home. He does not remember he he had ever driven that make or model car before. He was returning from visiting his wife with all the emotion that involves, it started to rain and his windshield began to fog. He could not see ANYTHING in front of him. With the diminished reflexes of a geriatric individual in an unfamiliar car he neither used the controls to change the inside temperature, did not open a window to clear the fog, nor did he turn on the wipers, nor did he apply the brake to slow from his speed of 15-20 miles an hour. Instead, unable to see out his windshield he hit my husband’s bike. There is no bike light or bike fender or anything my husband could have done to prevent being struck at 20 miles an hour. Because of our laws, the driver is still on the road with a valid license.

  • Miriam GrouchoMarxist Solon

    The good news is that CTA is restoring that stretch of the #11 Lincoln bus route.

  • Miriam GrouchoMarxist Solon

    That stretch of the #11 Lincoln bus route is now being restored.


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