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Cyclist Francisco Cruz Remembered as a Good Samaritan, Driver Still at Large

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Francisco "Frank" Cruz

Family and friends are remembering Francisco “Frank” Cruz, fatally struck on his bike by a hit-and-run van driver in West Garfield Park Wednesday night, as someone who went out of his way to help others. Meanwhile, police have yet to apprehend the motorist, despite the fact that the van bore the name and phone number of a local realty company.

Cruz was bicycling south on the 200 block of North Pulaski Road at 10:19 p.m. 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.

An image of the van taken by a security or traffic camera. The phone number visible on back of the van is for Advanced Realty Network, a brokerage at 2427 West Madison. Yesterday the businesses was closed and was not answering phone calls, various news outlets reported. As of Friday afternoon, the driver had not been apprehended and police had not disclosed whether the motorist worked for the company or if the van was stolen. Anyone who has information can contact the police at 312-745-4521.

ABC reported that Cruz, a father of seven who was also nicknamed “Pops,” was on his way home from work as a handyman when he was struck. A coworker told CBS the two of them discussed bicycle safety on a regular basis. Cruz, who didn’t have a driver’s license, said he worried about being struck while riding in the street, according to the coworker.

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

According to CBS, Cruz also frequented a Church’s Chicken on Pulaski near the crash site, where workers say he helped out with security and often escorted female employees after work to make sure they got home safely. “He helped everybody,” said his stepson Michael Burdine told CBS. “He was a good guy.” Burdine said he had been talking to people in the neighborhood trying to get more details about what happened. “We want justice.”

Footage of the crash that shows Cruz was riding with the flow of traffic, was captured by a security camera at Family Meat Market, a convenience store at the southwest corner of the intersection. “The driver just goes right into him, like he might not have been paying attention,” the store’s owner told CBS. “You hit somebody, it doesn’t matter who they are, you gotta stop and try to help them out.”

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Screen shot from security cam footage of the crash.

Gregory Turner, who lives near the crash site, told CBS that bystanders immediately ran to Cruz to render aid, and firefighters soon arrived on the scene.

“I couldn’t figure out how someone could hit you and leave,” Cruz’s sister Rose Smith told ABC. “Don’t just run away because, trust me, you will pay. If you don’t pay now, you’re going to pay later, by the Lord.”

But family members also told CBS they would forgive the driver if they turn themselves in. “Please come forward and give yourself up,” said Cruz’s wife Vurgie Burdine.

“Right now I am hurt so bad,” Vurgie Burdine added. “Hurt, empty, lost, because we’ve been together all our lives… We did everything together."

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. 

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