Driver Fatally Struck Cyclist Raul Ortiz-Gomez, 41, in West Town

The crash site from the driver's point of view. Image: Google Street View
The crash site from the driver's point of view. Image: Google Street View

A 40-year-old male driver has been cited after he struck and killed Raul Ortiz-Gomez, 41, in West Town Wednesday night.

At about 9:30 p.m. Ortiz-Gomez was biking on the west side of Ogden, according to Officer Jessica Rocco from Police News Affairs, who said it has not been determined which direction the cyclist was traveling. According to Rocco the motorist was driving a 2014 Lexus, traveling eastbound on Erie when he turned to head northeast on Ogden. That movement would have also involved a jog south on Racine prior to turning left onto Ogden. While making the turn onto Ogden, the driver struck the cyclist, Rocco said.

Red line shows the path an eastbound driver on Erie would have taken to turn northeast on Ogden. The blue marker shows the cyclist's possible location at the time of the crash. Image: Google Maps
Red line shows the path an eastbound driver on Erie would have taken to turn northeast on Ogden. The blue marker shows the cyclist’s possible location at the time of the crash. Image: Google Maps

Ortiz-Gomez, who lived on the 2600 block of South Harding in Little Village, was transported to Northwestern Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The driver was ticket for failure to exercise due care for a bicyclist in the road, Rocco said.

According to witnesses, Ortiz-Gomez was in a crosswalk when he was struck, WGN reported. It’s not clear whether he was riding on the street or sidewalk prior to the crossing. But since this stretch of Odgen has four travel lanes plus turn lanes, no bike lanes, and high-speed car traffic, it would be understandable if a cyclist thought it was safer to ride on the sidewalk than in the street.

Ogden is a direct diagonal route from the North Side to the Southwest Side. In December 2013, a drunk driver fatally struck Hector Avalos, 28, on the 2500 block of West Ogden, 2.5 miles southwest of yesterday’s crash site, as Avalos was biking from his job as a cook at a River North restaurant.

Ortiz-Gomez is the second person to be fatally struck on a bike in Chicago this year. On February 28, a driver struck and killed 21-year-old Carlos Daniel Ocana-Castillo on his bike in West Englewood and fled the scene.

Update 6/16/18, 9:30 AM: This morning Andrea Murphy contacted Streetsblog to say that she witnessed the moment of impact in the Ortiz-Gomez case, although she didn’t see the movements of the driver and cyclist prior to the crash. Although Police News Affairs told me the driver was going east on Erie prior to turning northeast onto Ogden, Murphy said the motorist, who is an Uber driver, told her he was making a right turn from Erie to head northeast on Ogden, which would have meant he had been going west on Erie.

And while News Affairs told me Ortiz-Gomez was on the west side of Ogden, Murphy said that she saw him being struck in the northeast-bound lanes of Ogden, on the east side of the street.

A map showing the driver's turning movement and the location of the crash, according to Andrea Murphy, who said she witnessed the moment of impact. Image: Andrea Murphy
A map showing the driver’s turning movement and the location of the crash, according to Andrea Murphy, who said she witnessed the moment of impact. Image: Andrea Murphy

In addition, although WGN reported that Ortiz-Gomez was in a crosswalk, Murphy noted that there are no crosswalks on the part of Ogden where she said the crash occurred. “I don’t know why WGN reported that he was in a crosswalk, there must’ve been a misunderstanding or assumption made somewhere along the way,” she said. “As far as I knew my friend and myself who were walking down Ogden were the only witnesses who left statements with the police, and we did not mention a crosswalk because there is none in that section of the street.”

While WGN reported that the cyclist was struck in a crosswalk, Andrea Murphy said he was struck in the northeast-bound lanes of Ogden north of Erie, where there is no crosswalk. Image: Google Street View
Looking north from Erie and Ogden. While WGN reported that the cyclist was struck in a crosswalk, Andrea Murphy said he was struck in the northeast-bound lanes of Ogden north of Erie, where there is no crosswalk. Image: Google Street View

Murphy noted that, since the driver works for Uber, it may be possible for the police to confirm her account of what happened via his ride-share app.

Fatality Tracker: 2018 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 23
Bicyclist: 2

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago streets. The pedestrian count above is based on Chicago Police Department data for January-April 2018 released by the Chicago Department of Transportation, plus media reports for May and June.

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