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Why haven’t police arrested the driver who killed Linda Mensch?

Linda Mensch, right, with one of her clients, children’s musician Ella Jenkins.

Despite testimony at least three witnesses, police camera footage, a license plate number, and the name of the vehicle owner, no one is in custody for the Thursday, August 26, hit-and-run killing of entertainment lawyer Linda Mensch, 70, next to the Garfield Park Conservatory.

According to a September 3 report by Sophie Sherry in the Sun-Times, at about 3:50 p.m., Mensch was leaving the greenhouse, 300 N. Central Park Ave. with a friend. As she walked in a crosswalk, the speeding southbound driver of a black GMC Savana cargo van struck her. According to witnesses, the motorist briefly got out of the vehicle before fleeing the scene northbound, dragging her body for several feet. Mensch was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The victim's daughter Jessica Heyman, who works as a public defender in New York City, told the Sun-Times the police had not provided any updates on efforts to find the driver. While the department has released surveillance images of the van, it has not provided a description of the motorist. As of this afternoon, no one was in custody, according to Police News Affairs. Police surveillance camera images of the van.

Police surveillance camera images of the van.

“I’m assuming that [the police] taken it seriously, but they haven’t really been in touch to keep us updated at all,” Heyman told the Sun-Times. “Feels like we're being left high and dry. It’s depressing”

Heyman told the paper the Garfield Conservatory Board and responding officer told her family that reckless driving and hit-and-run crashes are common in the area around the greenhouse. “It was the main entrance to the conservatory, like the main door. To have no markings there whatsoever to tell cars they are supposed to be slowing down (and) watch out for pedestrians, seems very confusing to me.”

The Garfield Park Conservatory. Image: Google Maps
The Garfield Park Conservatory, looking south. Image: Google Maps
The Garfield Park Conservatory. Image: Google Maps

Mensch is remembered as a vivacious person who loved music and stood up for the rights of artists. Her clients included children's musician Ella Jenkins, blues artist Honeyboy Edwards, and the funk band the Ohio Players. She served as president of the Chicago Chapter of the Recording Academy. She also sat on the board of A Safe Haven, a group with the mission of preventing homelessness in Chicago.

Mensh's case is one of at least two well-publicized hit-and-run cases last month in Chicago that are still unsolved, despite plentiful information about the drivers. On August 14, a speeding driver killed recent cancer survivor Sophie Allen, 27, near Wrigley Field, and was captured fleeing on foot by a security camera.

Read the Sun-Times article here. 

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

Pedestrian: 12
Bicyclist: 6

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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