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Distracted driver killed Peter Paquette, 75, hours after nearby safe streets rally

Pete Paquette

Content warning: This post includes a graphic description of a fatal crash.

On Sunday morning, hundreds of people gathered in Lincoln Square for the Walk + Roll for Safe Streets, a rally to honor Rafi Cardenas, 2, and Lily Shambrook, 3, toddlers killed by motorists this month, and demand action to prevent heartbreak.

Just a few hours later, a mile south of the starting point for that demonstration, where Rafi was struck by an SUV driver, another person was lost to traffic violence. A distracted driver fatally struck longtime 47th Ward volunteer Peter Paquette, 75, at Irving Park Road and Hoyne Avenue in North Center.

The 2100 block of West Irving Park Road, looking east. Image: Google Maps
The 2100 block of West Irving Park Road, looking east. Image: Google Maps
The 2100 block of West Irving Park Road, looking east. Image: Google Maps

According to police, at 3:15 p.m. Paquette was walking south on Hoyne across Irving Park in a crosswalk. The road has a wide five-lane layout that encourages speeding, and there is no stoplight or pedestrian island at Hoyne.

A 30-year-old man was driving a Nissan Altima sedan east on Irving Park when he struck Paquette. The senior, who lived on the 4800 block of North Leavitt Street, about a block north of the starting point for the safe street rally, was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m.

The driver was cited for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the roadway, and driving an uninsured vehicle.

The diagram from the crash report.
The diagram from the crash report.
The diagram from the crash report.

The traffic crash report provides more details about what happened. "[The driver] related to the responding officers that he was traveling east on Irving Park Road and took his eyes off the road for a moment because he was distracted by an event that happened at 2100 W. Irving Park Rd.," the address of O'Donovan's tavern.

The crash report states that Paquette was partially thrown through the windshield of the sedan, causing a skull fracture. When he was taken to the hospital, he was in grave condition, and he later went into cardiac arrest.

The driver underwent blood and urine DUI tests, the report states.

47th Ward alderperson Matt Martin, who spoke at that morning's demonstration, tweeted a thread about Paquette death that evening, saying that the senior had just left an early voting rally that Martin also attended. "I am devastated."

Martin said Paquette was a longtime ward volunteer, who helped donated deliver coats and shoes to local service providers, and called seniors to invite them to the free annual Songs of Good Cheer concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. "More importantly, he was a kind and compassionate spouse, friend, and neighbor – someone who was deeply invested in his family and in our community, and who believed passionately in holding government accountable so that it could better serve the public."

The alder said he knows first-hand how risky it can feel to walk across Irving Park Road. "My office will continue working to ensure that future improvements to pedestrian, bike, and public transportation infrastructure —not just throughout our Ward but throughout all of Chicago—are holistic, systemic, and better designed to ensure safe streets for all."

Paquette's obituary states, "Peter will always be remembered as having compassion for others and volunteer work in his local community of Lincoln Square, He was a champion of those less fortunate and believed strongly in helping all those who need it. He was a lifelong learner, a lover of literature and theatre, and had a passion for politics. He was active in his local parish Queen of Apostles. He was a Chicago sports fan…if they were winning. He had a great sense of humor and the best laugh."

In lieu of flowers, Paquette's family is requesting that donations be made to the advocacy group Better Streets Chicago, which helped organize the Walk + Roll.

Irving Park has seen multiple crashes this year, including the killing of Navy veteran Timothy Kast, 46, who was fatally struck while crossing the street on May 19 while crossing the 5300 block of the road, four miles west of Paquette's crash site, by a drunk motorcycle rider. Many of the collisions have been hit-and-runs

I'm sure Matt would love this but this road is controlled by the state department of highways. Cars first in their book. We can change that but know this is bigger than Matt.

— C (they/she) (@FullLaneFemme) June 13, 2022

Yet another driver struck people on foot in the 47th Ward Friday evening in Andersonville. At about 10:30, just after the Midsommarfest street festival, which pedestrianized a segment of Clark Street, a female driver was heading west on Clark when she sideswiped another vehicle driven by a 20-year-olde man driving east.

The aftermath of Friday's crash in Andersonville. Photo via @mateovonchicago
The aftermath of Friday's crash in Andersonville. Photo via @mateovonchicago
The aftermath of Friday's crash in Andersonville. Photo via @mateovonchicago

The woman's car careened onto the sidewalk at the northwest corner of Foster and Clark, striking a 29-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man. Both victims were transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition. A 37-year-old riding in the woman's car was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant. As of Tuesday morning, police had no updates on whether the driver had been cited or charged.

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

Pedestrian: 15
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

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