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Jaime Cuadra, 47, is 2nd person killed this month at a deadly Dan Ryan / Red Line intersection

8:47 PM CST on January 9, 2023

The 87th Street Red Line station, looking south from the highway median. Image: Google Maps

A week ago on Monday, January 2, a driver speeding south from the Dan Ryan Expressway on Lafayette Avenue, a frontage road and off-ramp, blew a red light at 79th Street, next to a Red Line station in Chatham, and killed a 45-year-old man walking west across Lafayette in the crosswalk. The driver and several passengers fled on foot. Streetsblog is not releasing the victim's identity, pending notification of kin by the Cook County medical examiner's office.

That was at least the 5th pedestrian fatality at that intersection since 2015. The epidemic of killings at this location is unsurprising, since Lafayette has five lanes and drivers use it to exit the Ryan at highway speeds; 79th has seven lanes here; and the busy 'L' s and nearby bus stops mean there's plenty of foot traffic here. It's a deadly combination.

Aerial view of the 79th/Lafayette/Dan Ryan intersection, looking south. Image: Google Maps
Aerial view of the 79th/Lafayette/Dan Ryan intersection, looking north. Image: Google Maps

Tragically, the next day another person was fatally struck, also in Chatham, at a nearly identical, equally dangerous Red Line station intersection a mile south at 87th Street, which has seen at least two other pedestrian deaths since 2015. Here are those previous cases.

Aerial view of the 87th/Lafayette/Dan Ryan intersection, looking north. Image: Google Maps
Aerial view of the 87th/Lafayette/Dan Ryan intersection, looking north. Image: Google Maps

The third victim at this location was Jaime Cuadra, 47, who was fatally struck on Tuesday, January 3, at about 5:35 a.m., according to Police News Affairs. Cuadra was exiting a vehicle that was stopped in traffic at the time. The 32-year-old female driver of a 2006 Chevrolet cargo van was heading east on 87th when she struck him.

Cuadra, who lived in south-suburban Lansing, was transported to the University of Chicago Hospitals, where he was pronounced dead at 7:03 a.m.

The driver received two citations, according to a police spokesperson, who said the specific violations were unavailable.

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

The crash report narrative provides more details about what reportedly happened. The eastbound van driver who struck Cuadra told responding officers she was merging into the left turn lane towards State Street when Cuadro was exiting an unknown westbound vehicle that was stopped in traffic. The report states, "As the pedestrian dashed towards the south side [of] 87th Street [towards the] Red Line train station, that is when she struck him." One other witness is listed on the report, and the narrative states that the incident was partially captured on a police surveillance camera. Of course, the victim is not alive to tell his side of the story.

The narrative also states that the responding officers offered the van driver the option of taking blood and urine DUI tests, which she declined. The report does not state whether she was cited for refusing to take the tests. Per Illinois law, if a responding officer asks a driver to take a DUI test and they refuse, the punishment is an automatic license suspension.

"In my experience drivers who decline the DUI test are intoxicated and choose to accept the statutory suspension as opposed to being arrested for DUI," commented Michael Keating, a personal injury attorney specializing in pedestrian and bike crash case (and a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor.) "There are no examples I know of where the denial is on some sort of principle."

One thing is for sure: If 87th were not a massive eight-lane street in this location, encouraging speeding, it's much more likely that a pedestrian struck here would survive. A "road diet" lane reduction is badly needed here, and everywhere else where overly-large streets have contributed to multiple pedestrian fatalities, especially in front of transit stations.

Fatality Tracker: 2023 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)

Pedestrian: 3
Bicyclist: 0

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.

2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

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