Driver, 90, Strikes Two Cyclists in West Town, Police Arrest One of the Cyclists

Looking southeast on Chicago and Milwaukee. Image: Google Maps
Looking southeast on Chicago and Milwaukee. Image: Google Maps

Yesterday after a 90-year-old male driver struck a man and a woman on bikes on Milwaukee Avenue in West Town, the male cyclist was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for breaking the motorist’s windshield, while the driver got a mere traffic ticket, according to the woman and the Chicago Police Department.

Megan Camarigg posted last night on a Ukrainian Village Facebook discussion group that at 5:30 p.m. that evening a driver struck her on Milwaukee at Chicago. “The man tried to continue to run me over as he turned right into the bike lane,” she wrote. “Another biker tried to stop him as I was on the hood and fell in front of his car. As the driver would not stop going, the biker hit the driver’s windshield to make the driver stop from running me over.”

Officer Jose Jara from Police News Affairs said that there was apparently a run-in between the elderly driver and one or both of the cyclists on Milwaukee northwest of the Chicago/Milwaukee intersection. Jara said surveillance camera footage shows that, following the initial encounter, the southbound driver stopped at a red light at Chicago and Camarigg and the second cyclist, identified as Daniel Moso-Vazquez, blocked his path. The video shows Camarigg striking the front passenger window of the car with her hand, according to Jara. The footage then shows the driver striking Camarigg and Moso-Vasquez with his car, and Moso-Vasquez breaking the windshield, Jara said.

Camarigg posted that a male bystander “stopped and took the keys out of the driver’s car to make him stop from running me over.” Jara said he had no record of this.

Jara said all parties declined medical attention. The driver was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way to a cyclist. But Moso-Vasquez was handcuffed, taken to the 12th District police headquarters and charged with a misdemeanor for criminal damage to property valued at under $500, Jara said.

“They arrested [Moso-Vasquez] but not the driver who hit me with his car,” Camarigg posted. “They let the driver off with a traffic violation, not aggravated assault?”

“[The driver] probably got scared and let go of his brake,” Jara told me.

Camarigg also expressed disbelief that the senior was allowed to drive away with a shattered windshield, and said that an officer threatened to write her a ticker for biking without a helmet, which isn’t illegal in Chicago. Jara said the police report stated that Camarigg “did not use a bicycle helmet.”

Camarigg said she had posted on the neighborhood forum because she was trying to get in touch with bystanders who had shot video of the incident. She said she felt the responding officers were heavily biased in favor of the driver. “Out of the eight cops I dealt with tonight, only two were [professional.] It was the police officers’ decision not to press aggravated assault, and [the driver] got a ticket. Thanks, CPD.”

“She got into with it with the driver, and the driver got into it with her,” Jara said. “No one was hurt. You know, life goes on.”

I’ve reached out to Camarigg via social media for more information and will update this post if I hear from her.

  • Jeremy

    If a driver hits an officer on a bike, what did you think the police response would be?

  • Gillian Wu

    If it’s possible to find the contact information for the cyclist that was arrested, I would like to donate toward his fees. He saved that woman’s life.

  • rduke

    This is one of the more subtle ways society subsidizes driving, car property is valued over human life

  • Alter

    “Officer Jose Jara from Police News said that there was apparently a run-in between the elderly driver and one or both of the cyclists on Milwaukee northwest of the Chicago/Milwaukee intersection. Jara said surveillance camera footage shows that, following the initial encounter, the southbound driver stopped at a red light at Chicago and Camarigg and the second cyclist, identified as Daniel Moso-Vazquez, blocked his path. The video shows Camarigg striking the front passenger window of the car with her hand, according to Jara.”

    So it appears that after the first encounter between the parties, the first one to actually use physical force was the female cyclist who struck the car window with her hand. If the whole story (when it all comes out) shows that the cyclist(s) was/were the first to use force in a confrontation, that would explain why the cyclist(s) was/were treated as the aggressors, and why the male cyclist (who broke the car window) went to jail.

  • brendalu

    So the fact that the “initial encounter” is him hitting them with his car doesn’t count?

  • Marchet

    Not clear to me from the story that the “initial encounter” was the driver hitting the car — sounds like it may have been a traffic dispute that became heated and then turned physical once the cyclists and the driver all arrived at red light at the Milwaukee and Chicago intersection.

  • Tooscrapps

    So you believe that you can run down anyone for touching your car?

    I mean, I’ve seen some road raging cagers actually threaten that in the heat of the moment, but it’s refreshing to see one state it so matter-of-factly.

  • Leo

    According to the police officer – the cyclist was striking the front passenger window of the car with her hand, not merely “touching” the window. Was this a tap on the window or an aggressive/threatening banging? Not clear. The more aggressive/threatening the contact, the more the cyclist loses the argument that she was not the aggressor.

  • Tooscrapps

    Except we don’t know the nature of the initial encounter. Also, someone slapping your window doesn’t give you carte blanche to strike them with your car.

    Let’s not forget, according to Jara, Moso-Vazquez didn’t initially strike the car. He broke the windshield only after he was struck by the car.

  • Tooscrapps

    This is not uncommon CPD behavior. I was doored mid-block, the driver admitted it to the responding officer and I had a witness, but when I asked if he would be ticketed they waved it off as only a civil matter.

    When I asked why, the response was: well cyclists always run stop signs and red lights, how do we know that didn’t happen here? Hmm, I don’t know, maybe because I was door MID-BLOCK!

  • Laertes

    It depends on the nature of the contact that the female cyclist made. If was a slap to get the driver’s attention, she might still be able to claim that she was not the aggressor. But if she was trying to break the car window (as the other cyclist actually did to the windshield), then her claim that she was not the aggressor likely fails.

    If the facts here were different, and the situation involved just the driver and a solo cyclist who had smashed the car windshield, that cyclist would not likely be able to claim that the driver was the aggressor.

  • Tooscrapps

    Again, it doesn’t matter what she did. Moso-Vazquez didn’t initially strike the car, but only did after being stuck. So by your logic, the motorist is most definitely the “aggressor” when it comes to Moso-Vazquez.

  • Laertes

    The initial encounter here is not described, so it is unclear if it was a contact between the driver and one of the cyclists, or just a verbal exchange arising from some traffic dispute.

    Once the driver and the cyclists arrived at the red light at Chicago and Milwaukee, the first question is what was the nature of the contact that female cyclist (Megan Camarigg ) made with the driver’s vehicle. If it was a mere rap on the window to get the driver’s attention, she is not the aggressor. If it was more of an aggressive/threatening contact as if to break the window, she loses the argument that she was not the aggressor.

    As for the male cyclist (Daniel Moso-Vazquez), he has a better argument that he was not the aggressor, since he only struck the windshield after the driver struck him. The issue might then turn on whether the driver REASONABLY perceived that the cyclists were acting together to threaten or assault him.

    These are, BTW, the legal arguments that would likely be raise if the driver was charged with assault in this incident.

  • Tooscrapps

    For me the issue isn’t that the driver wasn’t charged, but that Moso-Vazquez was. Arresting the cyclist for breaking the window after he was struck by the car and then absolving the driver by hypothesizing that he “probably got scared and let go of his brake” smacks of bias. That’s the issue.

  • Laertes

    One theory that the driver’s lawyer might advance (as noted above) is that the driver REASONABLY perceived that the cyclists were acting together to threaten or assault him. In order to bolster that argument, the driver’s lawyer would point to the fact that BOTH cyclists moved to block the driver’s path before the female cyclist struck the window.

  • That seems unlikely since they are usually riding on the sidewalk (at least 3 wide too)

  • DoctorTecate

    Not clear to me that the initial encounter was the driver hitting her with the car, but I feel comfortable making up what happened and just go ahead and blame the cyclists. She probably ran a red light.

  • Marchet

    I was not there so I don’t know what happened — it could have been the driver hitting one of the cyclists, or it may have been just a verbal dispute. The officer’s statement does not make this clear.

  • relevantjeff

    That driver would be lucky to make it to 26th and Cali alive.

  • The cop out of thin air provides an excuse for the driver:

    “[The driver] probably got scared and let go of his brake,” Jara told me.

    Ok how about creating one for the biker:

    “[The cyclist] probably got scared for their life and accidentally let go of their U-lock on the windshield,” Jara told me.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Gillian, were you present at the incident? If so, please call me at 312-560-3966 or email jgreenfield[at]streetsblog.org. Thanks.

  • JacobEPeters

    Having biked through that intersection regularly for almost a decade, it is much more likely that the driver was illegally driving in the bike lane & endangering the lives of other road users, they most likely were driving in the bike lane for the entire block between Elston and Chicago in order to jump the queue. Since I see this infraction on a daily basis. A verbal dispute that occurs in a bike lane is almost always instigated by a driver breaking the law, your “it may have been just a verbal dispute” still indicates that there is no reason to assume that the cyclist is more at fault than the operator of the 2 ton vehicle.

  • David Henri

    Leo, the only time a cyclist slaps the front passenger window of a motor vehicle is when the vehicle is squeezing into the bike lane and threatening the cyclist, who is about to be squished between the motor vehicle and a parked car.

  • Abacus

    Whatever the first dispute in the bike lane was, that alone does not give the driver or either cyclist justification for any use of force, once the driver and cyclist met up again blocks away at the Chicago and Milwaukee intersection.

  • PSSTT

    How come they can charge cyclists using camera footage but not motorists? If I am running my camera and a vehicle mirror clips my elbow or crosses into the bike lane or…(use your own life experience & example) they ARE NOT observing the 3 foot passing law. But, police won’t look at my/our camera footage and write that ticket.

  • Leo

    David Henri, according to the police description, based on video, at the time the female cyclist struck the passenger window, the driver’s car was not moving, as both cyclists were blocking the driver’s path.

  • Jacob Wilson

    I can’t decide if I have more spite for the CPD as an organization or the ignorant, thuggish buffoons that make up it’s ranks. Truly the worst gang in Chicago.

  • David P.

    Replace Ms. Camarigg with an off-duty police officer on their bike and then see how CPD treats the incident. ” “She got into with it with the driver, and the driver got into it with her,” Jara said. “No one was hurt. You know, life goes on.” “, indeed.

  • David P.

    This happened in the Loop a summer or two ago, and I believe the driver was arrested. I’ll pause to let you get over your surprise.

  • Tooscrapps

    Abacus is Marchet is Leo is Laertes is Alter…

    One thing is clear… he/she is intent on absolving the driver of fault.

  • Abacus

    I don’t have a view as to which party was the aggressor in this fight, since there is limited information as to what happened. With half the story from the police, and only one of the cyclists offering her account, I don’t see how you can reach any conclusion here. The driver may very well be the one who was the aggressor, but the facts so far are not conclusive.

  • Great Lakes Girl

    Contact Chicago PD and inquire if they have a process for reports/interactions to be reviewed for bias. Some PDs do where citizens can file complaints if they feel they were treated with bias.

  • JacobEPeters

    The use of force as described seems to have been an attempt to stop the driver from running over a human being. In my opinion, force that does not cause physical harm to another person is always justified in preventing a fatality. Drivers threaten me when I tap their window as they are right hooking me, I am not hurting them, but they view (incorrectly) an attack on their metal box (the only way to get their attention) as a threat to their life.

  • limod

    The CPD has shown over and over not to be cyclist friendly.

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