Lily Grace Shambrook, 3, killed by trucker, is 2nd recent child fatality on/near Leland

The ComEd truck, the mother's bicycle, the father's bike, the child seat, and the Mondelez truck. Photo: John Greenfield
The ComEd truck, the mother's bicycle, the father's bike, the child seat, and the Mondelez truck. Photo: John Greenfield

Content warning: This post includes a description of a child fatality crash. This is a developing story. We will update the post as more information becomes available.

Update 6/10/22, 8:30 AM: 

The girl has been identified as Elizabeth Grace Shambrook, called Lily or Lily Grace by her family.

Lily’s father, who was following his wife and their child on another bike, spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times to confirm that the initial CPD narrative that the mother “lost control and collided with the truck’s cab” was inaccurate. In reality, the Mondelez semi driver clipped the woman’s bike. The father also confirmed that the driver of the illegally parked ComEd truck contributed to the crash by blocking the bike lane, forcing the mother to “squeeze around” the ComEd vehicle. We’ll have more info posted on Streetsblog soon.

The father contacted Streetsblog to say that he appreciated words of support from our readers. “Your commenters are right there is more to the story… We are devastated at the loss of our sweet little girl.”

Update 6/9/22, 2:00 PM: According to a Block Club Chicago article (one of the more accurate reports on the case from local media outlets), ComEd said in a statement that its truck driver was parked at the site prior to the crash was not involved in the collision. However, the ComEd trucker was parked blocking the eastbound bike lane, potentially forcing the mother to ride in the mixed-traffic lane, so it may be the case that the ComEd trucker contributed to causing the crash.

The ComEd truck was parked in the eastbound dashed "advisory" bike lane, forcing the mother to bike in the mixed-traffic lane. Photo: John Greenfield
The ComEd truck was parked in the eastbound dashed “advisory” bike lane, forcing the mother to bike in the mixed-traffic lane. Photo: John Greenfield

Update 6/9/22, 12:54 PM: Active Transportation Alliance spokesperson Kyle Whitehead provided the following statement.

This crash is just the latest tragic example that even designated bike routes like Leland are often unsafe and uncomfortable for people biking. City officials clearly need to do more to control car and truck speed and volume on neighborhood routes like Leland.

Neighborhood Greenways – or bicycle boulevards as they’re known in other cities – typically feature hard infrastructure to slow down traffic to safe speeds and deter many cars and trucks from using the street altogether. This segment of Leland features only dashed painted bike lanes. Features like concrete curb extensions, bump outs, and raised crosswalks and intersections would transform Leland into a much safer street.

The prevalence of large trucks in serious and fatal bike and pedestrian crashes continues to raise alarm bells. City and state officials and private companies must do more to require sideguards and high-visibility mirrors on all large trucks, and better manage truck volume on local streets.

Bike Lane Uprising, which documents bikeway obstructions and helps organize “ghost bike” memorial installations for crash victims, noted on Twitter that one of the involved trucks was a ComEd vehicle, and ComEd drivers often block bike lanes. This stretch of Leland has dashed “advisory bike lanes.”

The sustainable transportation advocacy group Better Street Chicago provided this statement.

Today’s tragic killing of a 3 year old on a bike ride with her mother was preventable. It occurred on what the city designates as a greenway, one that even had a Slow Street treatment last year – which was removed because of driver complaints and “winter.”

Enough with the excuses. Enough with the inaction. Enough with the paint and plastic posts. We cannot continue to accept one of the top causes of childhood death as normal. Every day that the city continues to ignore the gruesome reality on our streets, the longer they enable it to go on. The time for concrete and holistic infrastructure is yesterday.

Update 6/9/22, 11:15 AM: CPD released a statement on the case: “The victim, a 3-year-old female, was on the back of a bicycle being operated by an adult female. As they were traveling in the same direction as a semi truck at the above location, the bicyclist lost control and collided with the truck’s cab. The bike then fell to the ground, and the 3-year-old was struck by the truck [driver]. The victim was transported to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced. No other injuries were reported. MAIU is on scene investigating.” According to a post on Twitter from a person who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, the trucker and bike rider were heading east.

It’s not clear who reported that the mother “lost control and collided with the truck’s cab.” It’s common for initial police reports of crashes involving bike riders and large vehicle drivers to inaccurately claim the collision was caused by cyclist error, when in reality the driver was at fault.

Details are still emerging from a truck-bike crash that took the life of a female toddler riding on the back of her mother’s bicycle this morning at Leland (4700 N.) and Winthrop (1100 W.) avenues in Uptown, on the bike-priority Leland Neighborhood Greenway route. Fox News reported at 10:25 a.m. that the child died but the mother was uninjured, but has little additional info.

A Streetsblog reader who happened upon the crash scene alerted us at 8:32 a.m. this morning. Police News Affairs had little info on the case, but said police received a 911 call at about 8:18 a.m.

As of 9:30 a.m., the crash scene was roped off with caution tape, and multiple police officers, including members of the Major Accidents Investigation Unit who were collecting evidence, were on the scene. Officers declined to comment on the case, referring Streetsblog to News Affairs, which as of 10:15 a.m., had no further information.

At the scene, a badly damaged white bicycle with straight handlebars and narrow tires lay under a ComEd truck at the southwest corner of Leland/Winthrop. A large Mondelez semi truck, apparently used for delivering food, stood in the east leg of the intersection.

The mother's bicycle under the ComEd truck. Photo: John Greenfield
The mother’s bicycle under the ComEd truck. Photo: John Greenfield

At the southeast corner, a child’s bicycle seat lay in the street. An undamaged red road bicycle with upright bars was leaned against a nearby pole.

The child was the 4th person killed on a bicycle this year on Chicago streets.

Major Accidents staff surveying the crash site this morning. Photo: John Greenfield
Major Accidents staff surveying the crash site this morning. Photo: John Greenfield

Leland is a Neighborhood Greenway route, including pavement markings and speed humps, that runs between Clark Street (1400 W.) and the Lakefront Trail in the 46th Ward. The greenway will be extended west into the 47th Ward later this summer, including a segment of concrete protected bike lanes, a ward staffer told Streetsblog yesterday.

Last year Leland had a “Slow Street” treatment during the warmer months between Lincoln Avenue (2300 W.) and Sheridan Road (1000 W.), including the blocks where today’s crash occurred. That strategy involved the installation of barricades and traffic barrels that further calmed traffic and discouraged non-local car trips, making it safer to walk and bike in the street.

While the treatment was credited with an 85 percent increase in bike traffic on Leland, the Slow Street was dismantled three months early in response to complaints from residents that it was confusing for drivers. It’s not clear whether the Slow Street treatment might have made a difference in preventing today’s death.

The Leland Slow Street treatment. Photo: John Greenfield
The Leland Slow Street treatment. Photo: John Greenfield

46th Ward alderperson James Cappleman has not yet commented on today’s tragedy, but his deputy chief of staff Maggie Gaecke told Streetsblog the ward had already been in talks with the Chicago Department of Transportation about conducting a traffic study on Leland in between Clark and Broadway (1130 W.) with the goal of using ward funding to install further traffic calming. Gaecke said the ward reached out to CDOT after today’s fatality to ask if there’s anything that can be done to improve safety specifically at Leland/Winthrop.

This is the second serious injury or fatality crash case involving a small child on or near Leland in this part of town within a week. On the evening of Thursday, June 2, an SUV driver fatally struck Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas, 2, after the child rode a mini scooter into the intersection of Eastwood Avenue, half a block south of Leland, and Leavitt Street in Lincoln Square, 1.4 miles west of this morning’s crash site.

“Tragedies like Rafi’s death are what drives our approach to infrastructure,” 47th Ward alderperson Matt Martin said in a Facebook post following that crash. “Children should be able to walk and roll around their neighborhood safely.”

In addition, on April 18 of this year, a left-turning sedan driver fatally struck Yehuala Melkama, 44, as she walked in a crosswalk at Hazel and Sunnyside avenues in Uptown, half a mile southeast of today’s crash site.

Fatality Tracker: 2022 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets

Pedestrian: 14
Bicyclist: 4

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.

2022 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)

2022 Chicago bike fatality cases