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GoFundMe launched for Uptown hit-and-run survivor Paul Aning

Flier posted inside the Green Mill jazz club.

Update 12/20/21, 8:00 AM: A GoFundMe spokesperson provided this update about the challenge to Liliana Mendiola's GoFundMe fundraiser for Paul Aning: "Our Trust & Safety team reached out to the organizer for more information about their connection to the recipient and provided instructions to add the beneficiary. When a fundraiser is created to benefit someone else, as in this case, we work with organizers to confirm their connection and to ensure all funds raised are safely transferred to the right place."

Update 12/18/21, 3:00 PM: Liliana Mendiola contacted Streetsblog to say that the GoFundMe she launched "has been questioned as far as the legitimacy of the fundraiser... I will try to sort this out as best that I can." The GoFundMe page is still live, but we do not recommend donating to it until we get confirmation that the issue is resolved.

Update 12/17/21, 3:30 PM: Liliana Mendiola, who launched a GoFundMe page for Paul Aning, told Streetsblog today, "Paul is doing very well. He is recovering smoothly and cooperating with rehabilitation. [The] social worker and I are working on a plan for the use of funds gathered." About $900 has been raised.

Another Streetsblog reader told us they recently visited Aning at Illinois Masonic Hospital. "He'd been in a coma for up to a week and half after being admitted, but doesn't seem to have any brain damage. Paul told me that his jaw was fractured in several places and has been placed on a puréed diet. While visiting, I had the opportunity to speak with his rehab specialist and she shared with me that his mobility has been limited due to deep muscle contusions and stiffness. All in all, he's doing amazingly well."

Update 12/10/21, 2:45 PM: Uptown resident Liliana Mendiola told Streetsblog that while she doesn't know Paul Aning, she has seen him on the street several times in the past. She said she contacted Illinois Masonic Hospital, where Aning is recovering from the crash and left contact info for his case worker.

Yesterday, she has launched a GoFundMe page for Aning, which has raised more than $300 so far. "I am simply trying to help the guy and give him some hope," she told Streetsblog." She added that she intends to give the money to Aning's case worker to help out with his shelter and food expenses.

"Let's give this man hope and love with contributing to show him that people do care," Mendiola wrote on the fundraising page. "To give this man courage and uplift his spirit. Let's help this young man turn his life around. I believe this is the reason why it wasn't his turn yet to leave earth. He has a purpose. Let's help him find that purpose."

Update 11/29/21, 3 PM: There have been multiple indications that Aning is still alive. A spokesperson for the Cook County medical examiner's office told Streetsblog Chicago he is not on a list of recently deceased people. A Streetsblog reader posted a comment below this article stating that Aning is still at Illinois Masonic and "I will be speaking with a social worker that is currently handling his case." And fliers near the crash site that previously claimed that Aning died have been updated to state that is not the case.

This afternoon Streetsblog obtained the crash report, which provides additional information about the crash and Aning's injuries. His name is listed on the crash report as "Kwame Aningaa."

Diagram of the collision from the crash report. Lawrence/Broadway is inaccurately depicted here as a six-way intersection.
Diagram of the collision from the crash report. Lawrence/Broadway is inaccurately depicted here as a six-way intersection.
Diagram of the collision from the crash report. Lawrence/Broadway is inaccurately depicted here as a six-way intersection.

While the diagram on the report shows Lawrence/Broadway as a six-way junction, it's actually a four-way. It indicates that Aning was struck in the west leg of the Lawrence/Broadway intersection.

The narrative on the crash report states that the responding officers responded to an Emergency Medical Services call at the site. When they arrived, one of the paramedics told them that a witness, who asked to remain anonymous (no witnesses are listed on the report) said he saw the male driver of a newer model silver Camaro sedan with tinted windows traveling west on Lawrence from Winthrop Avenue, one block east. According to the witness, Aning was attempting to cross Lawrence when the driver struck him in the right side, before executing a U-turn and fleeing east on Lawrence.

The crash report states that Aning sustained a fractured right femur (thigh) bone, and a broken right cheek bone and lower-right jaw. He was taken in critical condition to Illinois Masonic Hospital. A CT scan did not detect a brain injury. The report states that Aning received a breathing tube, has internal swelling, "and will be monitored until his condition stabilizes."

Let's hope that Aning makes a full recovery and, if so, that a positive outcome of his ordeal will be city officials and housing advocates helping to connect him with a permanent home so he no longer needs to panhandle in the street.

Update 11/27/21, 9 AM: This piece previously stated that Aning died from his injuries, based on info provided by a friend of mine and the flier posted near the crash site. However, after publication, the friend notified me that they received additional information that called into question whether Aning has actually died from his injuries. While Police News Affairs told Streetsblog Aning was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash, this morning a department spokesperson said they do not have info on his current status. The Cook County medical examiner's office, which provides the identities of fatal crash victims, has not yet responded to my inquiry on the case. The piece has been edited accordingly. We'll update the piece after we get confirmation of Aning's status.

Paul Aning, 39, is a familiar sight in the Uptown neighborhood, where I live. According to local residents, he was unhoused. I've often seen him panhandling on Broadway or Clark Street, and have sometimes made a contribution.

Since Aning has frequently stood in the street while asking drivers and bike riders for money, I've been concerned for his safety in the past. So when a friend told me a motorist struck a homeless person early last Sunday at Lawrence Avenue and Broadway, I was saddened, but not surprised, to hear Aning was the victim. Compounding the tragedy is the fact the driver who reportedly struck him didn't even have the decency to stop and render aid.

Lawrence and Broadway, looking north. Image: Google Maps
Lawrence and Broadway, looking north. Image: Google Maps
Lawrence and Broadway, looking north. Image: Google Maps

According to Police News Affairs, on Sunday, November 21, at about 5:15 a.m., Aning was crossing the street when the driver of a silver Camaro struck him and fled in an unknown direction. Aning was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition.

The Cook County medical examiner's office did not immediately respond to an emailed question about Aning's status.

According to police no one is in custody. There is a surveillance camera mounted on a light pole at the intersection.

Shrine near the Green Mill. The flier has since been updated to say "He's Alive."
Shrine near the Green Mill. The flier has since been updated to say "He's Alive."
Shrine near the Green Mill. The flier has since been updated to say "He's Alive."

A flyer posted on the window of the Green Mill jazz club at Lawrence/Broadway stated that Aning was pronounced dead on the scene, which does not align with the CPD statement that he was hospitalized in critical condition. The flier encouraged people to leave memorials at a shrine by the intersection. "Paul will be missed beyond reason," it stated.

This piece will be updated after Streetsblog receives confirmation on Aning's status.

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