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Driver who killed Concepcion Lopez, 82, in West Ridge threw object over wall, was DUI tested

The location where the BMW driver killed Lopez, with the roof of the bus shelter in the background. Photo: Maureen Murphy

Information from the crash report for the death of Concepcion Lopez, 82, killed by a reckless BMW driver while she waited for the bus last week in West Ridge, raises questions of whether the motorist may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

According to police, on Wednesday, May 11 at around 1:05 p.m., Lopez was sitting in the bus shelter on the south side of the 2100 block of West Peterson Avenue, across the street from a Target store, waiting for an eastbound CTA #84 Peterson bus. The 42-year-old male driver of a black BMW was heading east when he veered onto the sidewalk, hitting Lopez and demolishing the shelter before stopping at the north wall of Rosehill Cemetery.

Concepcion Lopez
Concepcion Lopez
Concepcion Lopez

The senior was pronounced dead at the scene. According to an online obituary, visitation is taking place today at a Chicago funeral home, and Lopez will be buried in Guatemala.

The motorist was transported to St. Francis Hospital in good condition. Police ticketed him for failure to keep within lanes and driving without insurance.

The case involves a few different recurring issues in Chicago fatality crashes. Peterson is five-lane state highway designed to make it easy for drivers to travel quickly between the suburbs and DuSable Lake Shore Drive, but it runs through dense urban areas, endangering vulnerable road users. Lopez was only the most recent of many people killed by drivers while waiting for CTA buses. And studies have found that BMW drivers are more likely than other motorists to get in crashes or drive while intoxicated.

Max Chavez, a historic preservationist, tweeted that he was a few feet from Lopez during the crash, and narrowly escaped being seriously injured.

Chavez declined to discuss the incident, citing legal concerns, but indicated that a lawsuit is likely. He said he would pass along Streetsblog's contact info to involved attorneys in the event that they are ready to comment on the case.

The crash report also lists a Target employee as a witness. However, a spokesperson for the company said they were unable to provide contact info.

Diagram of the incident from the crash report.
Diagram of the incident from the crash report.
Diagram of the incident from the crash report.

The narrative on the crash report suggests that the driver, who lives a few miles west of the site in the Forest Glen community, was trying to get rid of a potentially incriminating object. (Streetsblog generally does not publish the identities of drivers from fatal crashes unless they have been charged with a felony.) It states that a "witness related that the driver... did throw an object over the [wall] of Rosehill Cemetery and it was inventoried." That is, responding officers went into the cemetery and fetched the item the motorist wished to get rid of.

The coding on the report indicates that the driver underwent a blood alcohol level test to determine whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but the results were not known at the time the report was filled out. This afternoon Police News Affairs said no one is in custody for the crash, which suggest that the motorist has not yet been charged with a DUI. However, the driver has a traffic court hearing on Tuesday, June 21.

"This crash certainly was horrific," said Tom Reuland, an attorney with Keating Law Offices (a Streetsblog sponsor), which specializes in personal injury cases involving pedestrians and bike riders. "The precise reasons why this crash occurred require a thorough investigation. It’s suspicious that someone in the BMW threw an object over a nearby fence, and to what extent alcohol or illicit drugs played in the crash. A thorough investigation can help provide answers about how and why this tragedy unfolded."

"It seems that there was concern by police that the driver was intoxicated," said Brendan Kevenides from FK Law (also a Streetsblog sponsor), another firm that focuses on bike and pedestrian injury cases. "There’s no way to know at this time what may have been thrown over the fence but it certainly could have been alcohol or drugs... Something like this is everyone’s biggest fear: To be standing on a sidewalk minding your own business in the middle of the day then have a driver jumps the curb. It’s just hideous and terrifying."

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