Driver who fatally struck Juana Tapia Lopez, 56, on November 20 in Little Village is still at large

Juana Tapia Lopez
Juana Tapia Lopez

The family of Juana Tapia Lopez, 56, a grandmother of ten who was struck by a hit-and-run driver last month in Little Village and died from her injuries a few weeks later, is still waiting for justice.

According to police, on Sunday, November 20 at 8:20 p.m., Lopez was walking across the north leg of the intersection of 26th Street and Drake Avenue, on Little Village’s busy 26th Street retail corridor. A westbound driver on 26th made a northbound right turn onto Drake, striking her.

Diagram of the collision from the crash report.
Diagram of the collision from the crash report.

According to local news reports, Lopez was picking up one of her daughters from work when she was hit, and the impact threw her into the air.

The traffic crash report states that the motorist then “drove to the middle of the street, where an unknown person jumped in.” The driver fled north, and then headed west on 25th Street.

The crash report states that Lopez was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition with injuries to the back of her head and her lower leg.

A community alert issued by the Chicago Police Department originally described the vehicle as a red or maroon, 2004 – 2008 Ford F-150 Super Crew pickup truck and included a a surveillance image of that kind of truck. However, police have since said they are currently looking for a different vehicle.

The 26th/Drake intersection, looking west. Image: Google Maps
The 26th/Drake intersection, looking west. Image: Google Maps

Lopez remained in a coma for weeks after the collision. “We still have strong hope and faith that she will wake up and be okay,” her daughter Daisy Soto told NBC Chicago in early December. “Even with what the doctors are saying, we still have so much faith.”

Tragically, Lopez did not recover, but instead was pronounced dead on Thursday, December 8. “My mom was little, but mighty,” Lopez’s daughter Monse Soto told CBS after her death. Lopez volunteered with the Little Village Community Council. “It doesn’t feel real. My mom was very loud and very talkative – and seeing her in the hospital so quiet, so still, was very scary.”

Soto and Lopez
Lopez with one of her daughters.

Family members have noted that the fact the driver didn’t stop to render aid, and still hasn’t been caught, makes their loss worse. “How could you take another person,” Monse Soto said to CBS. “My mom was a human, and for the person that did it to just leave her there like she was nothing?”

“We just want justice for her,” Monse Soto’s sister Daisy Soto, told NBC shortly before Lopez’s death. “She didn’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this. We just want them to be caught; basically we don’t want them to do this to somebody else, somebody else’s mother.”

According to an NBC investigation, there have been 33,000 hit-and-run crashes in Chicago this year, resulting in at least 28 hit-and-run fatalities (of all types), and 4,400 people injured.

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

Pedestrian: 30
Bicyclist: 8

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

  • On September 8, 2022, Samuel Bell, 44, was riding an e-bike southeast on the 700 block of North Milwaukee in River West when an elederly Hyundai Elantra sedan driver made a left turn onto Huron Street, fatally striking Bell.
  • On August 27, 2022, an SUV driver ran a stop sign and fatally struck Fengan Yan, 55, at 26th Street and Stewart Avenue in the Armour Square community.
  • On August 11, 2022, a van driver struck and killed Pablo Rodriguez, 55, near 99th Street and Avenue L in the East Side community and fled the scene.
  • On June 24, 2022, a cargo van driver fatally struck Joshua Avina-Luna, 15, near 62nd Street and Austin Avenue in the Clearing neighborhood
  • 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.

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