Francisco Cruz, 58, Fatally Struck by Van Driver While Biking in West Garfield

The Chicago Police Department provided this image of a commercial cargo van that struck Francisco Cruz Wednesday night.
The Chicago Police Department provided this image of a commercial cargo van whose driver struck Francisco Cruz Wednesday night. Image: CPD

We will update this post throughout the day as more facts are made available. 

Francisco Cruz, 58, was struck and killed while biking in West Garfield Park Wednesday night by a cargo van driver who fled the scene. This newest tragedy happened the day after art student Lisa Kuivinen while riding a bike in West Town Tuesday morning. Cruz’s death is the fourth bike fatality this year; all four cases involved a commercial driver.

Cruz was bicycling south on the 200 block of North Pulaski Road at 10:19 p.m. last night when the driver of a northbound white commercial cargo van turned left onto Maypole Avenue and fatally struck him, police said. The driver did not stop to render aid but instead contined west on Maypole.

Cruz, of the 1300 block of South Christiana in North Lawndale, was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

street view of Pulaski and Maypole
The intersection of Pulaski and Maypole from the driver’s perspective. Image: Google Street View

The police are trying to apprehend the driver and provided an image of the van taken by a security or traffic camera. The phone number visible on back of the van in the image is associated with Advanced Realty Network, a brokerage at 2427 West Madison. A call to the number reached a voicemail for the company. While it’s not clear that the driver was employed by Advanced, presumably the police will visit the company for more information. Anyone who has information can contact the police at 312-745-4521.

As of Thursday afternoon, several people had left abusive comments in the reviews section of Advanced’s Facebook page. Please keep in mind that this is inappropriate, since we don’t even know for sure yet that the driver works for the company.

Cruz’s death follows those of three other bike riders who were fatally struck by commercial vehicle drivers this summer. Courier Blaine Klingenberg was struck and killed by a tour bus driver on June 15 in the Gold Coast. Divvy rider Virginia Murray fatally struck by a flatbed truck driver on July 1 in Avondale, and Lisa Kuivinen was also struck and killed by a the driver of a flatbed truck on August 16. Active Transportation Alliance advocacy director Jim Merrell responded to the news on Twitter this morning, tagging Mayor Emanuel’s and the Chicago Department of Transportation’s accounts.

“Vision Zero” is a strategy with the goal of preventing all traffic fatalities through better street design, legislation, enforcement, and education, which has recently been adopted by U.S. cities like New York. In 2012 the city of Chicago set a target of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2022, but so far it has not officially approved a Vision Zero plan.

At a Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting earlier this month, CDOT deputy commissioner Luann Hamilton said that the city’s Vision Zero steering committee “needs to meet to review the draft Action Plan” and that working groups comprising city staff have convened twice this year.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 14 (seven were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 4 (one was a hit-and-run crash)

Note: When commenting on articles about fatal crashes, please be mindful of the fact that family and friends of the victims may read the post. 

  • Courtney

    I recently had the thought that we should do more to encourage commercial deliveries on bike when possible. These preventable tragedies should provide the impetus.

  • Kevin M

    Given the hour of this incident, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that this “commercial cargo van” was not actually being used for its commercial purpose, but instead was likely being used as a personal motor vehicle?

  • I don’t think it’s “safe” to assume anything about what commercial companies do at 10:20 PM. Maybe this is a 24 hour plumber.

  • urbanleftbehind

    Considering also the neighborhood, why take the chance that person hit is a well-“respected” local – I would high tail it too. In situations like that, I think the charge “leaving scene of accident” should be evaluated (not necessarily “dropped”) so long as incident is called in and person reports to a police station within 1 hour of such an incident.

  • rohmen

    Congrats sir, spoken like the true racist you undoubtedly are.

  • Kevin M

    Good point; I agree; thanks.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Steven and I have both lived in Garfield Park at different times. I’ve met plenty of great people there and the neighborhoods has many positive features that visitors would be wise to check out — the conservatory is just the tip of the iceberg. Comments making blanket statements about underserved communities will be deleted in the future.

  • Fred

    There’s a ladder on the top of that van. Not exactly easily transportable by bicycle.

  • planetshwoop

    How awful. I continue to be upset and deeply saddened by these horrible accidents. My thoughts are with Mr Cruz’ family, and the others who have been lost this year.

  • Decent people are more than willing to take such chances. There was also the chance that immediate assistance to the cyclist might make the difference between life and death.

    I understand your fear. But not allowing our fears to control our morals is an important step in growing up.

  • Bobo Chimpan

    You are disgusting

  • Curtis James

    You are pathetic. So it’s OK to hit someone and flee without trying to help them, or calling for help, because you’re paranoid about the neighborhood. It’s OK to leave them injured or dying for up to an hour, right? Because you’re a coward?

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, there are some items that may not be practical to deliver by bike. But more things than you might think can be easily moved by bike. I always give the example of the folks who used to distribute Time Out Chicago by cargo bike, moving hundreds of pounds of magazines in single load. And think of how much safer (and less congested and polluted) our streets would be if everything that could be delivered by bike was delivered that way.

  • JacobEPeters

    has anyone contacted the Advanced Realty main office in New Jersey? it seems that this site has both phone and email for a company representative

  • JacobEPeters

    here is the streetview screen grab of that contact info btw

  • Anne A

    My sympathy to the family and friends of Francisco Cruz.

  • rohmen

    One of the update articles floating out there indicated the CPD has reached out to the owner of the business, but so far no one has answered the phone, and the place has been closed and shuttered.

    I know we all want answers, but my guess is that this investigation is likely going to take some time. Sure, the name and number of the business who owned the van is splashed across the back, but they’re still going to have to establish who was actually driving at the time, and do so in a way that will stick in court since this is going to be felony hit and run. The first “real” update we get on who the driver was is going to be the arrest announcement IMHO.

  • G.T.

    A simple search at cyberdriveillinois will show the names of the president and registered agent of this company who owns the truck. The registered agent even once reviewed the company on its FB page. Plenty of contact info there.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Also bikes can be upgraded with electric motors. I have gotten mail that way for years. Here’s some examples:

  • Bernard Finucane

    This would not have happened at a properly designed intersection. The photo shows that the van is cutting the corner to turn at high speed. This is only possible because the roads are at least 40 feet wide at the intersection, which makes no sense when there is only one lane marked each way.

    Widening the sidewalks as shown in the picture would leave ample room for vehicles to move through the intersection while reducing speed and making their movement much more predictable. The islands in the middle of Pulaski are pedestrian refuges. They would also require turning vehicles to take a slower, sharper turn. The red box shows approximately where the van is in the photo.

  • Bernard Finucane

    This setup would also prevent delivery vans from blocking the crosswalks, as seen in this street view. This pic also shows where the van was in the photo — in the left lane.

  • ichiroku

    does anyone know what the heck happened in this case? i saw a sun times article about the estate suing Advanced Realty, but can’t find any details.