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Details on the Bike Crash That Took the Life of Fire Lieutenant Danny Carbol

7:39 PM CDT on October 13, 2016

Lt. Danny Carbol

There were at least four media-reported bike fatalities and three serious injury crashes in the Chicago area during the 12-day stretch from September 19-30. During that same period, on September 20, Chicago Fire Department lieutenant Danny Carbol, 56, sustained serious brain damage in a bike-SUV crash in suburban Evergreen Park.

Carbol died from his injuries last Monday night. “Despite the best efforts to save him, the brain damage was irreversible,” Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford told NBC Chicago.

Carbol’s coworker and friend Lt. Joe Hughes told DNAinfo that Carbol was a health-conscious person who often biked to work from his home in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood to the firehouse at 8026 South Kedzie. Hughes, who also lived in Mount Greenwood, sometimes rode with him. Carbol had finished up a night shift at the station and was biking home on a Tuesday morning when the crash occurred.

According to the crash report from the Evergreen Park police department, at 8:22 a.m. Carbol was biking south in the southbound lane at the intersection of 93rd Street and Central Park Avenue in Evergreen Park. The firefighter lived on the 10500 block of south Central Park, so on his route between the firehouse and his home, he passed through the suburb, which is generally bordered by Ashburn north of 87th Street and Mt. Greenwood south of 103rd Street.

At the time of the crash, Tatiana Camarena, 37, of the 4800 block of North Albany Avenue in Albany Park, was driving east on 93rd in a 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, according to the report. A responding officer said that when he arrived at the scene, the SUV was stopped in the intersection and Carbol lay on the ground to the north of the vehicle, unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and ears. There was a large dent in the front left fender of the SUV but the bike was undamaged. Carbol was transported to nearby Advocate Christ Medical Center, where he died almost three weeks later.

The 93rd/Central Park intersection has stop signs in all directions. A female witness reported to the responding officer that she was driving eastbound behind Camarena and saw the SUV driver stop at her stop sign and then proceed through the intersection.

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 7.14.56 PM
A possible route from the firehouse to Carbol's block. 83rd and 103rd are generally the north and south borders of Evergreen Park. Image: Google Maps

The witness said she saw Carbol riding south into the intersection at the same time, and “it appeared that [Carbol] was assuming that [Camarena] was going to stop for him,” the officer wrote. The witness said Carbol did not stop or yield.

The witness said she saw Carbol strike the SUV’s front left fender “travel off his bike into the air and onto the hood of [the SUV] before falling back to the ground,” the report states. According to authorities, he was not wearing a bike helmet.

Following an autopsy on Tuesday, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Carbol’s death an accident and listed the cause of death as “Multiple injuries due to bicyclist struck by automobile.”

Camarena told the responding officer she did not see Carbol on his bike coming towards the intersection. She added that she was in the intersection when the firefighter struck her SUV.

Camarena was not cited. According to the police report, the officer “issued Danny a citation” for failing to yield to the SUV. The officer later visited the hospital, spoke with Carbol’s family and “explained the citation and paperwork for the accident” to the family and told them that the bicycle was at the police station.

Carbol came from a family of firefighters, and spent most of his career working in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. DNA reported that he was also active in politics, and ran as a Republican for 19th Ward committeeman – belying the stereotype that Republicans don’t support transportation cycling. But even his sometime-adversary, Democratic 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea, told DNA, “He was a good guy.”

"He was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet," Carbol’s coworker Hughes said. "He was a unique kind of guy, and I am going to miss him every day of my life."

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