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During a weekend of street races, a speeding driver killed Shawman Meireis, 40, on foot

5:10 PM CDT on August 30, 2022

Shawman Meireis

Chicago's increasingly common phenomenon of illegal drag racing and "sideshows," drivers performing stunts on city streets, is more than just a nuisance – it's a serious threat to the safety of bystanders. According to authorities, many people came to Chicago from out of town for a weekend of "street takeovers" in various parts of the city.

Police say it's not yet clear whether there was a connection between these dangerous events and the killing of Shawman Meireis, 40. She was visiting our city when a speeding Corvette driver cut her life short early Sunday morning in the Clearing neighborhood.

But witnesses said the offender was "showing off" for another motorist in a Corvette, suggesting the tragedy may have been related to the meetups. Whether or not that turns out to be true, clearly this was an incredibly irresponsible and selfish act that should have serious consequences for the perpetrator, but so far he has merely received traffic tickets.

According to police, on Sunday, August 28, at about 1:35 a.m., Meireis was crossing Cicero Avenue (4800 W.) in a crosswalk at 65th Street in the Clearing neighborhood, near Midway Airport. This stretch of Cicero has six travel lanes, an Interstate-like layout that's totally inappropriate for a dense urban area, making it easy for motorists to drive at deadly speeds.

Cicero looking south towards 65th Street, where Meireis was struck. Image: Google Maps
Cicero looking south towards 65th Street, where Meireis was struck. Image: Google Maps
Cicero looking south towards 65th Street, where Meireis was struck. Image: Google Maps

Police said a 27-year-old man in a red Corvette was driving south at the same time as a 19-year-old woman in a blue Corvette, and both were traveling at a high rate of speed. The man changed lanes to overtake the female motorist and struck the northbound driver of a Hyundai, who was making a westbound left turn. The red corvette driver then struck Meireis in the crosswalk.

Meireis was transported to Christ Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The red Corvette driver was ticketed for having an obstructed front windshield and failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the roadway, police said. Major Accidents is investigating the case, and it's possible other citations or charges may be issued.

Screen Shot 2022-08-30 at 5.18.25 PM

According to a Sun-Times article by David Struett, Meireis was in town from Naples, Florida, and was going for a late-night meal with her boyfriend after attending the Sacred Rose Festival in Bridgeview. Her 41st birthday would have been the next day. Witnesses said the drivers had been weaving in and out of traffic and cutting each other off when they careened towards her. After driver of the red car struck Meireis, the damaged vehicle stopped near 65th Street, and the boyfriend angrily confronted his partner's killer, grabbing him and slamming him against a light pole.

In a statement, the Meireis' family said the victim “was a much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, and partner... [who] loved music, the outdoors and her many nieces and nephews. She was the ultimate aunt, and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.” She grew up in Maine and attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Boston University, and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and was recently working as a consultant focusing on pharmaceutical safety, research and management.

Screenshot from a dashcam video of the red Corvette driver chasing the blue Corvette driver prior to the crash.
Screenshot from a dashcam video of the red Corvette driver chasing the blue Corvette driver prior to the crash.
Screenshot from a dashcam video of the red Corvette driver chasing the blue Corvette driver prior to the crash.

The red Corvette driver told police he was fleeing a carjacking attempt. But the Sun-Times reported that witnesses said the red Corvette driver was "showing off" for the other motorist. The two motorists were stopped at a red light at 63rd Street before the crash and began racing each other when the signal turned green. The female driver reportedly fled the scene after the collision. “Coward didn’t stay a second to make sure the other driver... was OK. Drove off instantly,” said a witness. "Very irresponsible of the racers taking an innocent person’s life."

While police superintendent David Brown said on Monday morning that the department hasn't yet been determined whether the killing was related to the weekends street racing events, he acknowledged that the police have "statements alluding to the speculation that it might have been drag racing."

On July 20, the City Council passed an ordinance that allows anyone participating in illegal drag racing or sideshows on the public way to be fined between $5000 to $10,000.

Read the Sun-Times article here.

Fatality Tracker: 2022 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)

Pedestrian: 22
Bicyclist: 7

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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