Wilberto Rivera, 67, died 2 weeks after being struck on North Ave. in Humboldt Park
2:08 AM CDT on June 16, 2022
On Sunday, a distracted driver killed longtime 47th Ward volunteer Peter Paquette, 75, as he attempted to cross five-lane Irving Park Road (4000 N.) in North Center. This week Streetsblog learned about the passing of Wilberto River, 67, that Saturday, two weeks after a motorist struck him on a five-lane stretch North Avenue in Humboldt Park.
According to Police News Affairs, on Friday, May 27 at about 7:00 p.m., Rivera was walking north across North Avenue (1600 N.) at Albany Avenue (3100 W.) The five lanes on this segment of North Avenue, which borders the Humboldt Park green space, encourage speeding. The recent addition of non-protected bike lanes on the street seems to have, at best, only a modest effect on calming traffic. Stere are no stoplights or pedestrian islands at this intersection.
A 40-year-old man was driving a 2016 Honda accord sedan east on North Avenue and struck Rivera, police said. The victim, who lived just east of the crash site, was transported to Mt Sinai hospital, and pronounced dead on Saturday, May 11 at 5:33 p.m.
The driver was driving an uninsured vehicle and was cited for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the road, according to police.
The traffic crash report provide more information about what reportedly happened. It states that after the crash Rivera was listed in stable condition with a collapsed right lung, dislocated right shoulder, and several abrasions, and was unable to answer questions due to being treated for his injuries.
When responding officers talked with the driver, he told them he struck Rivera as the victim approached the southernmost lane of North Avenue. The driver stated Rivera, "appeared to be intoxicated and carrying a beer while crossing." Again, the victim was unable to tell his side of the story.
Furthermore, section 9-40-160 of the Chicago municipal code states that, "Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian... and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person [emphasis added] upon a roadway." So even if Rivera was intoxicated at the time (and there's no law against walking while drunk in Illinois), it was the driver's responsibility to avoid striking him, which is why the citation for failure to exercise due care was warranted.
High-speed five-lane roads through dense urban areas are basically deathtraps. Here are some other fatality cases from recent years on North Avenue.
- In September 2021, a motorcycle rider, who was swerving to avoid a car driver, struck and killed a 74-year-old man in the 3200 block of West North Avenue in Humboldt Park, one block west of the site where Rivera was hit.
- In July 2020, the driver of a semi-truck fatally struck 41-year-old Luis Galvos while he walking on the 3400 block of West North Avenue in Humboldt Park, three blocks west of Rivera's crash site.
- There were four different incidents of people being fatally struck on North Avenue in 2014 alone.
North, designated as Illinois Route 64, is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation, which has historically prioritized maintaining traffic flow over creating safe conditions for all road users.
However, there is a fairly straightforward way to reduce traffic violence on North Avenue, and all five-lane streets in Chicago. The layout of the street should be converted to one mixed-traffic lane in each direction, plus a turn lane. The extra road width should be converted to dedicated lanes for express buses and/or physically protected or raised bike lanes, which would help mitigate any congestion impacts for drivers.
Fatality Tracker: 2022 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets
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)
- On June 12, 2022, a distracted Nissan Altima sedan driver fatally struck Peter Paquette, 75, at Irving Park Road and Hoyne Avenue in North Center.
- On June 2, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed 2-year-old Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas at Eastwood Avenue and Leavitt Street in Lincoln Square as the toddler rode a mini-scooter into the intersection.
- On May 27, 2022, a Honda sedan driver fatally struck Wilberto Rivera, 76, as he crossed North Avenue at Albany Avenue. He died from his injuries two weeks later on June 11.
- On May 27, 2022, a hit-and-run SUV driver fatally struck Martha Velazquez, 34, on the 2900 block of West Columbus Avenue in Ashburn.
- On May 19, 2022, a motorcyclist fatally struck Timothy Kast, 46, as he crossed the 5300 block of West Irving Park Road in Portage Park.
- On May 11, 2022, a BMW sedan driver struck and killed 82-year-old Concepcion Lopez, as she waited at a CTA bus stop on the 2100 block of West Peterson in West Ridge.
- On May 10, 2022, a left-turning van driver failed to yield to failed to yield to Berta Arroyo Salgado, 73, as she crossed the street in a crosswalk at Chicago Avenue and Paulina Street in West Town, killing the senior.
- On May 6, 2022, a Cadillac sedan driver ran a red light at Roosevelt Road and Damen Avenue on the Near West Side, struck another vehicle, and careened onto the sidewalk, killing a 33-year-old man.
- On April 18, 2022, a left-turning sedan driver fatally struck Yehuala Melkama, 44, as she walked in a crosswalk at Hazel and Sunnyside avenues in Uptown.
- On March 27, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed Larry J. Davis, 68, at 3350 S. Kedzie Ave. in Little Village.
- On March 17, 2022, a left-turning driver struck and killed Miriam M. Grande, 70, at Grand and Austin avenues in the Belmont Central neighborhood and fled the scene.
- On March 15, 2022, a car driver fatally struck Allen Lee Jr., 88, as he attempted to cross Western Avenue at 109th Street in Morgan Park.
- On February 8, 2022, a Chicago police officer struck Javion Marquel Johnson, 20, with an SUV after Johnson had been shot multiple times, potentially contributing to his death, at 12111 S. Stewart Avenue in Rosehill.
- On January 20, 2022, a hit-and-run driver fatally struck Richard Haljean, 57, as he crossed Touhy Avenue at Oriole Avenue in Edison Park.
- On January 15, 2022 Angel Thomas, 35, was walking to her car on the 4300 block of West Jackson Boulevard in West Garfield Park when an SUV driver fatally struck her and fled.
- On January 12, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed Deborah Renee Jones, 67, in the 6800 block of South Stony Island in South Shore.
2022 Chicago bike fatality cases
- On June 9, 2022, a semi truck driver ran over and killed Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook, 3, riding in a child seat on the back of her mother’s bike at Leland and Winthrop avenues in Uptown. The mother was uninjured.
- On May 4, 2022, a Nissan Versa sedan driver fatally struck Nick Parlingayan, 22, on his bike at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues in Irving Park.
- On April 16, 2022, an allegedly intoxicated hit-and-run Volkswagen Jetta driver fatally struck Paresh Chhatrala, 42, near Madison and Peoria streets in the West Loop.
- On February 28, 2022, a BMW sedan driver ran a red light at Balbo Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive in the Loop, fatally striking Gerardo Marciales, 41, on a Divvy bike.
In addition to editing Streetsblog Chicago, John writes about transportation and other topics for additional local publications. A Chicagoan since 1989, he enjoys exploring the city on foot, bike, bus, and 'L' train.