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Driver Badly Injures Cyclist in Little Italy, Flees the Scene

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 4.32.59 PM
The 1000 block of West Taylor, looking east. Image: Google Street View

Bike rider Sean Diller, 24, is trying to track down the motorist who struck him on a Taylor Street bike lane, then left him bleeding in the street with a severely messed-up face.

On Thursday, May 21, around 11:15 p.m., Diller was biking from a friend’s house to his home in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood, according to his attorney Michael Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor). As he pedaled in the bike lane on the 1000 block of West Taylor, a motorist struck him, then fled westbound, Keating said.

“The last thing Sean remembers seeing was a white flash, but he can’t remember if that was the car or from hitting his head on the pavement,” Keating said. “He suffered a head injury, at least a concussion.” Diller was transported to Stroger Hospital in stable condition, where he underwent treatment and testing for a possible neurological injury, according to Keating.

Diller also suffered a severe laceration over his right eye, which required several stitches, as did his upper lip, Keating said, adding that the victim’s eye was swollen shut. He sustained road rash all over his hands, as well as severe abrasions on his right knee, according to Keating. The victim spent the night at the hospital and missed a week of work, his lawyer said.

Officer José Estrada from Police News Affairs told me Diller was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, judging from statements the cyclist and hospital staff made to police. “[Diller] provided a diagram that shows he might have been sideswiped, but it’s hit-or-miss when you have a victim who has been drinking,” Estrada said.

“He had some drinks that evening, but he wasn’t intoxicated,” Keating said. “When Sean was at the hospital, they gave him morphine, which is contraindicated to ethyl alcohol. They wouldn’t haven’t have given it to him if he was drunk.”

The police report does not indicate that there were witnesses or video footage of the crash, Estrada said. “The investigation is ongoing, but unless someone comes forward with info about what happened, probably not much is going to occur.”

“Fortunately for Sean, the injuries he sustained were not life-changing or fatal, which is generally required for the police department’s Major Accidents unit to get involved,” Keating said. “The police did as much as they should be expected to do under these circumstances. In a case like this, it now becomes my job to find out as much as possible.”

Valet parking attendants at Tuscany restaurant, 1014 West Taylor, heard the crash and chased after the car, but weren’t able to get its plate number, Keating said. The lawyer is currently contacting nearby businesseses to see if security camera footage of the crash exists. He also plans to use a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain any video from nearby police and traffic cams.

Even if the manhunt turns out to be in vain, Diller may get some compensation for his medical bills. “Fortunately, Sean was still under his parents’ auto insurance policy, which contains a provision called uninsured motorist coverage," Keating said. "That should provide insurance coverage in the event that we’re not able to find the driver.”

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