Widow of Cyclist Jesse Rodriguez Sues Parents of Teen Who Killed Him

Jesse Rodgriguez
Jesse Rodgriguez

Earlier this month a wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Linda Mastrandea, the widow of cyclist Jesse Rodriguez, 67, against the parents of the fifteen-year-old boy who struck him last September in the Pulaski Park neighborhood.

According to a witness Streetsblog interviewed after the crash, Rodriguez had been biking north on the North Shore Channel Trail on Sunday, September 23, when he stopped at about 5:20 p.m at the southeast corner of Devon and McCormick Avenue to wait for a red light. She said a driver then whipped around the corner and struck Rodriguez before taking out a “Shared Lane: Yield to Bikes” sign on the sidewalk and fleeing east on Devon.

The teen turned himself in to the 20th District police station the next morning accompanied by a parent, police said. He was charged with felony counts of reckless homicide, failure to report a crash, and leaving the scene of a crash.

According to attorney Michael Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor), who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mastrandea in the Cook County Circuit Court on November 2, the suit claims the parents are liable due to “negligent entrustment of a vehicle to a minor.” He added that this doesn’t indicate that the parents gave the teen permission to drive underage, but rather that they were negligent because they made it easy for him to do so.

Keating said that it’s not yet clear whether the boy had a history of underaged driving. However, he said, “It is my understanding that, due to a series of prior issues with the law, the judge initially would not release the minor from custody because of the severity and extent of the legal issues.”

The attorney said that while no trial date has been set in the criminal case against the youth, the matter was up for a hearing today, which he did not attend because juvenile court hearings are closed to the public. The initial status hearing for the civil case is scheduled for January 2.

Diagram of the crash from the police report.
Diagram of the crash from the police report.

The witness Streetsblog interviewed stated that Rodriguez, who worked as a contractor, was standing with his bike in the street, a few inches in front of curb cut, when he was struck. However, Keating provided the crash report, which states that several other witnesses said the driver “made a right hand turn onto Devon, driving onto the sidewalk, striking [Rodriguez] and then fleeing [eastbound] onto Devon.” This may indicate that the victim was actually on the sidewalk when he was struck.

  • I am not at all surprised that the crash report doesn’t reflect what the witnesses say happened.

  • what_eva

    The diagram shows the victim in the street with his rear tire on the curb. The victim being hit in the crosswalk doesn’t mean the driver didn’t also drive on the sidewalk. In fact, the driver clearly did since he hit the “shared lane” sign.