Driver Who Killed Noah Katz, 2, In Portage Park Charged With Misdemeanors

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Giddings and Central, looking west. The driver made a left turn into the south leg of the intersection (left side of this image) striking Noah Katz and his mother. Image: Google Streets View

A two-year-old boy is dead and his mother is injured after a driver blew a stop sign and failed to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk while turning left in Portage Park, according to police.

At around 4:10 p.m. Sunday, Noah Katz, 2, and his 39-year-old mother were crossing eastbound in the south leg of the southernmost intersection of Giddings Street and Central Avenue, police said. Alexander Vasquez, 48, was driving a van westbound on Giddings.

Police say Vasquez failed to observe the stop sign and made a left turn at a high rate of speed, striking the toddler and his mother in the crosswalk. Neighbors told WGN that Vasquez dragged the boy several feet before stopping. One witness said that it appeared the driver was going to flee the scene, so he got out of his car and yelled at Vasquez to stop.

A nurse who happened to be on the scene attempted CPR on Noah Katz, WGN reported. The child was pronounced dead on the scene and his mother was transported to Lutheran General hospital in Park Ridge with injuries that appeared to be non-life-threatening, police said.

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The crash took place at the southernmost intersection of Giddings and Central. the nearest stop sign east of the crash site is at Linder. Image: Google Maps

Vasquez was issued one citation for failure to stop at a stop sign, two for failure to reduce speed, and two for failure to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, police said.

Stuffed animals, flowers, and candles have been left at the intersection as a memorial. Neighbors told CBS that diamond-shaped “yield to pedestrians” signs at the intersection have not been effective.

The neighbors said more stop signs should be installed in the area to calm traffic. There is a stop sign one full block east of the crash site at Giddings and Linder Avenue.

A spokesman for local alderman John Arena’s office told CBS that the ward has been trying to improve traffic issue on Central for years. The alderman plans to work with the city’s transportation department to improve safety in the area around Giddings/Central, pending more information about the crash, the spokesman said.

“I don’t understand why a two-year-old gorgeous little tiny guy had to be killed like that,” neighbor Sharon Sands told CBS.

Update 11/14/16 4:30 PM: A reader noted that, about a quarter north of this crash site, Caroll Brown, 76, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing Central at Ainslie Street in December 2015. It appears that the driver was never apprehended.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 19 (eight were hit-and-run crashes)*
Bicyclist: 6 (one was a hit-and-run crash)

*Streetsblog Chicago’s fatality tracker is based on news reports. On November 2, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that there had been 29 pedestrian fatalities in the city as of September 30, according to preliminary police data. CDOT has not released data on the number of hit-and-run pedestrian crashes.

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