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Speeding driver killed Kaidon Bell, 14, critically injured girl, 12, in North Lawndale

4:23 AM CST on November 30, 2021

Kaidon Bell

A family is mourning the loss of 14-year-old Kaidon Bell, and a girl, 12, is fighting for her life, after a reckless, speeding driver struck the children in North Lawndale last Saturday.

According the Chicago Police Department, on Saturday, November 27, at about 7:30 p.m., Bell and the girl were heading north on foot from a gas station at the southeast corner of Cermak and Kostner avenues. The 20-year-old male driver of a gray Dodge Charger was traveling west and struck them.

Bell was was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The girl was transported to Mt. Sinai Hospital in critical condition. According to CPD, the crash does not appear to be alcohol-related. However, the driver was ticketed for failure to reduce speed and yield to pedestrians in the roadway.

Looking west towards the crash site. Image: Google Maps
Looking west towards the crash site. Image: Google Maps
Looking west towards the crash site. Image: Google Maps

Security camera footage shows that the driver was traveling at a high rate of speed when he struck the children. On this stretch, Cermak is a four-lane street with a grassy median and turn lanes, a layout that encourages unsafe speeds.

The police department stated, "Preliminary information is the 14 and 12-year-old ran into the street... when they were struck." Even if that does turn out to be true, when pedestrians make errors, they shouldn't have to pay for them with their lives, especially if they're children. And studies show that, had the driver been going the 30 mph speed limit, Bell almost certainly would have survived.

Graph: ProPublica
Graph: ProPublica
Graph: ProPublica

Bell's family described him as a helpful, charismatic young person who loved "Harry Potter" books, got good grades, and was looking forward to attending Westinghouse High. His older sister Nekiara told ABC Chicago witnesses said Kaidon died while trying to shield the girl, a friend of his, from the driver. "I love him for being a protector of the young lady he was with."

Compounding the tragedy of Kaidon's death and the financial strain from funeral expenses, the family recently mourned the death of his older cousin.

Nekiara told WGN News she has a message for other motorists. "Slow down. You never know whose family [member] is in the street. You never know what you may hit. Just slow down and please be cautious of everybody and the people around you."

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

Pedestrian: 22
Bicyclist: 9

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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