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Drivers killed 2 people walking in the Loop and Avalon Park Memorial Day Weekend

9:14 PM CDT on June 1, 2021

Maria Chiqui

Memorial Day Weekend was deadly for Chicago pedestrians, as motorists struck and killed a 55-year-old woman on Friday evening in the Loop , as well as a 72-year-old man on Saturday afternoon in Avalon Park.

Wrong-way, speeding, hit-and-run driver killed Maria Chiqui, 55, in the Loop

According to the Chicago Police Department, on Friday, May 29, around 5:30 p.m., Maria Chiqui was walking west across Wabash Avenue on Jackson Street. Jamaal Huffman, 26, was speeding northbound, against traffic, on Wabash in a red BMW sedan when he struck Chiqui. (Police initially stated that Huffman was driving in a bike lane, although there are no bikeways at that location, and it was later reported that he was driving in the parking lane.)

The 300 block of South Wabash, looking north. Image: Google Maps
The 300 block of South Wabash, looking north. Image: Google Maps

Chiqui suffered head injuries and was taken to Northwestern Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said. No other injuries were reported.

Huffman, a Matteson resident, attempted to flee the scene on foot but was arrested by responding police officers without further incident, according to police. He was charged with reckless homicide and cited for driving on an expired license.

Chiqui's family told ABC Chicago that she had left her temporary housekeeping job near Jackson and Michigan Avenue Friday evening and was walking west to catch a train when she was struck. "Honestly what kind of person leaves after doing that to someone?" her son asked.

At a hearing on Sunday, Judge David Navarro set Huffman's bail at $50,000 and ordered him not to drive before his next hearing, the Chicago Tribune reported. Navarro said the tragedy, "speaks to the fact that any vehicle driven can become a weapon. Driving too fast, certainly driving the wrong way in the parking lane on Wabash, can have deadly consequences.”

A GoFundMe page has been launched to help cover funeral expenses.

Motorist fatally struck man, 72, in Avalon Park

According to police, on Saturday, May 30 at about 1:50 p.m., a man was driving north on Stony Island Avenue when he swerved to the right of a car stopped near 82nd Street. The driver then struck a 72-year-old man who was in the street.

Looking north on the 8200 block of South Stony Island Avenue. Image: Google Maps
Looking north on the 8200 block of South Stony Island Avenue. Image: Google Maps

The victim suffered lacerations to the head and was transported in critical condition to the University of Chicago Hospitals, where he was pronounced dead. His name had not been released as of earlier today.

The driver was cited for failing to reduce speed, striking a pedestrian and driving without insurance, according to police. Stony Island is an eight-lane-wide street, which encourages speeding.

Fatality Tracker: 2021 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets

Pedestrian: 10
Bicyclist: 2

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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