Prisca Reynoso-Benitez, 64, is 2nd person killed at same location on Devon in 9 years

Prisca Reynoso-Benitez
Prisca Reynoso-Benitez

On Friday a driver struck and killed Prisca Reynoso-Benitez, 64, while she was crossing Devon Avenue (6400 N.) at Maplewood Avenue (2530 W.) in the Little India business district in Chicago’s West Ridge community. She was the second person killed by a motorist while crossing at this location in less than a decade, on a strip that has been plagued with traffic violence.

According to police, on Friday, October 8, at about 6 a.m., Reynoso-Benitez was walking south across Devon at Maplewood. There are no stoplights or stop signs for east-west traffic on Devon at this location.

A 40-year-old man was driving west on Devon when he struck Reynoso-Benitez. the victim, who lived on the 5400 block of North Ashland Avenue, was taken to St. Francis Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

The driver, who stayed at the scene, was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk, and driving uninsured.

Reynoso-Benitez’s family has launched a GoFundMe page to cover expenses. “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the sad passing of our beloved Prisca Reynoso who today, October 8, leaves us with a broken heart,” states a message in Spanish from her niece Rosa Osorio. “Rest in peace my beloved aunt. You will always live in our hearts.”

In November 2012 an unlicensed driver struck and killed Tsering Dorjee, 44, a leader in the local Tibetan-American community, as he crossed Devon at Maplewood with his brother-in-law, according to a Chicago Tribune report. That motorist was heading east on Devon when he veered into the westbound lane while attempting to make a left turn to head north on Maplewood, fatally striking Dorjee and injuring the brother-in-law, and then fled the scene. He later pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and failure to report the crash and was sentenced to four years in prison.

with his son.
Tsering Dorjee with his son.

There have been many other serious and fatal crashes on Devon in Little India in the past decade, including the May 2012 death of Tasoula Metropolos, 81, struck by a turning SUV driver at Washtenaw Avenue (2700 W.); and the August 2013 killing of Norman David Esho, 83, by a hit-and-run SUV driver at California Avenue (2800 W.)

Community leader have blamed on speeding drivers failing to yield to the many pedestrians crossing the street along the bustling retail corridor. A 2011 Chicago Department of Transportation study found that the Devon retail strip was the most dangerous road for pedestrians on the North Side. After a hit-and-run driver badly injured an elderly couple and their adult son when they were crossing Devon at Campbell Avenue (2500 W.), in January 2013 police held an enforcement event on Devon to educate drivers about their legal requirement to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

Screen Shot 2021-10-10 at 1.13.01 PM
Devon/Maplewood in July 2011 and in July 2019, after the streetscape project was completed. Images: Google Maps

A streetscape project completed in 2017 brought some pedestrian infrastructure improvements corridors to the Devon corridor between Leavitt Street (2200 W.) and Kedzie Avenue (3200 W.) Upgrades to the Devon/Maplewood intersection included sidewalk bump-outs that shortened the Devon crossing distance somewhat, and the addition of zebra-striped crosswalks. Tragically, those changes weren’t enough to prevent this second tragedy at the same location.

The obvious solution to prevent future serious injuries or deaths on the Little India business strip would be to add more stop signs for east-west traffic or stop lights at currently unsignalized intersections with heavy pedestrian traffic. Yes, that strategy would delay drivers somewhat, but is that really more important than preventing more deaths or life-changing injuries? Installing speed cameras along the corridor would also be helpful, as would be building raised crosswalks.

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

Pedestrian: 16
Bicyclist: 7

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.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG