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Police Officer: Video Shows Driver Who Killed Noah Katz Stopped at Stop Sign

Noah and Rachel Katz. Photo courtesy of the family

The driver who killed two-year-old Noah Katz in the Portage Park community area Sunday afternoon was charged with running a stop sign, as well as other misdemeanors. But according to a police officer said recently recovered video shows the motorists actually stopped at the sign, a source said this afternoon.

At about 4:10 p.m. Sunday, Noah and his mother Rachel Katz, 39, were crossing east in the crosswalk on the south leg of the southernmost intersection of Giddings Street and Central Avenue, according to police. Van driver Alexander Vasquez, 48, was heading west on Giddings and turned south on Central, striking them. Noah was pronounced dead on the scene; Rachel was hospitalized with minor injuries.

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. However, the police recently told 45th Ward alderman John Arena they do not expect the charges to be upgraded, Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh told me on Wednesday.

It’s now clear why that’s the case. According to the source, the officer said the police department’s Major Accidents section recently recovered video footage that clearly showed that Vasquez stopped at the stop sign on Giddings at Central before making the left turn and running over the child. It's possible that the footage came from a security camera in the parking lot of the Jewel at the northeast corner of the intersection.

“What I heard was that there was a vehicle parked on the street that may have obstructed [Vasquez’s] view” of Noah and Rachel, the source said.

Police News Affairs has not released any information about the video, according to Officer Nicole Tanehill.

There appear to be security cameras on this light pole at Jewel next to the crash site. Image: Google Street View
There appear to be security cameras on this light pole at Jewel next to the crash site. Image: Google Street View
There appear to be security cameras on this light pole at Jewel next to the crash site. Image: Google Street View

Had a driver been parked at the southeast corner of the intersection, blocking the crosswalk, it’s possible that Vasquez’s view of the pedestrians was blocked while he was stopped at his stop sign. However, had he been driving at a safe speed and keeping a proper lookout, he should have been able to brake in time to avert the tragedy.

Moreover, WGN reported that a witness said the boy was dragged several feet after impact and it appeared Vasquez was going to flee the scene, so the witness got out of his car and yelled at him to stop.

In the wake of this tragedy, Alderman Arena and the Chicago Department of Transportation are planning to expedite plans for sidewalk bump-outs at this intersection, which will calm traffic and shorten pedestrian crossing distances. The project had previously been postponed due to opposition from drivers, on the grounds that the removal of rush hour parking restrictions on this stretch of Central to allow the bump-outs would delay motorists.

A crowdfunding site established in support of the Katz family has raised over $28,000.

Nadig Newspapers provided a tip for this story.

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