Hit-and-run drivers killed 3 pedestrians in Chicago in less than 2 weeks

Little Village crash victim Jose Almanza, Oliver Jose Almanza, Maria Ruiz, and Sergio Almanza in their hometown of Salamanca, Mexico.
Little Village crash victim Jose Almanza, Oliver Jose Almanza, Maria Ruiz, and Sergio Almanza in their hometown of Salamanca, Mexico.

Tragically there has been an epidemic of hit-and-run pedestrian fatalities in Chicago since late July. Here’s a rundown of the cases.

July 29: Hit-and-run driver killed Radame L. Morales, 49 in Humboldt Park

Streetsblog Chicago previously reported on the Wednesday, July 29 death of Chavon Trimble, 28, who was fatally struck on the 1400 block of West Roosevelt on the Near West Side.

On the same day a motorist struck and killed 49-year-old Radame L. Morales on the 4000 block of West Division Street in Humboldt Park.

Two days earlier in Humboldt Park, the driver of a semi-truck had fatally struck 41-year-old Luis Galvos while he walking about a mile away from the Morales crash site, on the 3400 block of North Avenue.

According to police, at about 10 p.m. on the 29th, Morales was crossing the street near Division and Pulaski Road. Division has five lanes in this location, which encourages speeding.

Screen Shot 2020-08-19 at 3.38.18 PM
Looking west toward the intersection of Division and Pulaski. Image: Google Maps

An SUV driver struck Morales while making a turn and did not stop to render aid.

Morales, who lived nearby, was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon at Stroger hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

As of this afternoon, no arrests had been made.

August 2: Longtime Little Village nut vendor Jose Almanza, 67, killed by driver fleeing police 

On Wednesday, August 2, after 9 p.m., 67-year-old Jose Almanza had come home from selling garapiñados, candied peanuts and pecans outside a restaurant in Little Village, and walked to a Walgreens at 26th Street and Pulaski Road, three blocks from his home, according to a Chicago Tribune report. Near that intersection, Almanza was struck by Cortez Williams, 26, who was fleeing a traffic stop by officers in an unmarked vehicle, police said.

Almanza was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition, and died on August 5, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Police arrested Williams near the crash site, according to the CPD. He has been charged with fleeing the police, reckless driving causing bodily harm, and possession of a firearm.

According to the Tribune, Almanza was a fixture in the community, who sold nuts outside Taqueria Atotonilco, 3916 W. 26th St., for over 25 years and earned enough money to send his sons to college in Mexico. “He leaves a great void in our lives, but I’m at peace because he was a good man and people seem to have noticed that,” his wife Maria Ruiz told the paper. “I hope people remember him for his honesty and work ethic. He did everything for his family.”

Driver intentionally struck Zoraleigh Ryan, 55, twice in River North, killing her

On Monday, August 10, at about 11 p.m. Zoraleigh Ryan, 55, was walking down Hubbard Street after celebrating the birthday of her daughter Shannon, 20, at a steakhouse when an SUV driver allegedly drove straight at them, and then circled the block and struck Ryan again, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

According to the Tribune, the Ryans were waiting for an Uber when the SUV driver initially struck them. According to prosecutors, Edgar Roman, 25, admitted to police officers that he struck the women and was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Prosecutors did not have an explanation for what motivated Roman to strike the women.

Zoraleigh Ryan
Zoraleigh Ryan

After Roman first struck the Ryans, bystander Adonnis Taylor ran to help them, the Tribune reported. When Roman attacked the women a second time, Taylor shielded Shannon and pushed her out of the driver’s path. She sustained a fractured wrist and an ankle injury to her ankle and is recovering physically, but according to her older sister Amber Logue, she is emotionally “broken right now.”

Prosecutors say the driver, Edgar Roman, 25, admitted to police that he hit the women and has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. But prosecutors gave no motive for the brutal attack.

Logue described her mother, who worked as an accountant, to the Tribune as “top-notch.” “Put your mind to something and do it, that was her biggest saying. She was very positive.”

Logue told the paper her mother’s death is “gut-wrenching.” “You can’t possibly imagine what would possess this person to just say, ‘Hey, let me just try to kill these two people on this corner.'”

Fatality Tracker: 2020 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets

Pedestrian: 18
Bicyclist: 5

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data released by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

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