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Cyclist Hit by Driver of Stolen Car Is Out of Hospital, Recovering from Spinal Injuries

12:29 PM CDT on September 13, 2018

The cyclist who was injured. Photo provided

The 30-year-old female cyclist who was struck on Tuesday, September 4, in Logan Square by a teen fleeing in a stolen car, has been released from the hospital, according to her attorney. However, the woman sustained multiple injuries, including spinal fractures, and has a long road to recovery.

As reported in Streetsblog Chicago last week, witness Geoffrey Harding said he saw the female driver of a gray Honda Accord driving erratically that afternoon at about 3:15 p.m. As the motorist sped south on Sacramento she veered left into the oncoming traffic lane to get around a line of cars stopped at a red light at Diversey, across the street from Fat Rice restaurant. She then struck a northbound pickup truck and careened towards a Marathon station at the northeast corner of the intersection, striking the cyclist, who was biking north.

Harding reported that that the driver was unconscious behind the wheel following the crash. A staff member from Norwegian American Hospital, where she was taken for treatment, said she was released from the emergency room the same day.

The motorist, who's 17, was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle, and was also cited for failure to exercise due car for a pedestrian (bicyclist) in the roadway, failure to stay in lane, and driving without a license or insurance, police said. The driver  has a traffic court hearing on Friday, October 19, likely at the Daley Center, according to the cyclist's attorney, Brendan Kevenides of the bike-focused firm FK Law (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor.)

The bike rider grew up in Logan Square and has lived since 2015 in San Luis Obispo, California, where she is studying environmental engineering at a community college, Kevenides said, adding that she requested anonymity to maintain her privacy. She came back to Chicago to attend a friend's wedding and was riding a 1990s steel-frame Fuji when she was struck.

The cyclist was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital after the crash with broken vertebrae, a fractured scapula, three broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and extensive road rash, Kevenides said. She underwent surgery to install metal hardware to stabilize her spine last Thursday. "I met with her at the hospital after the surgery and she was in obvious, visible pain," Kevenides said. "She was hit head-on, so it's amazing that she survived."

The bike rider was released from the hospital yesterday wearing a "turtle shell"-style hard brace around her back and torso and is staying at a friend's house, Kevenides said. She is able to walk short distances with a walker and sit upright for short periods of time. "But she's in constant pain," he said. "She won't even be able to start physical therapy for six-to-eight weeks. It's obviously going to be a long road to recovery."

Kevenides said that, despite these challenges, the cyclist seems to be in reasonably good spirits. "She's dealing with this as well as anybody could be expected to be. But she's concerned about her future. She very much wants to get back to school and continue her education."

The attorney declined to discuss the firm's legal strategy or his information about why the teen was driving a stolen car. However, he added that there were several witnesses, and there may be security video footage of the crash. There are no traffic cameras at the intersection. "This case could go on for quite a long time."

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