Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In
Traffic Safety

One building crash takes a teen’s life in Hinsdale. Another forces leaders to make safety improvements in Bronzeville.

A tragedy takes place in the western suburbs. And Chicagoans shouldn't have to wait until a driver strikes their building for city officials to make traffic safety upgrades.

Urban Juncture’s Bronzeville office, after the crash last March. Image CBS

Update 7/26/23, 9 AM: On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 25, the day this post was written, a speeding truck driver crashed though Polson Natural Foods on Main Street in Antioch. ABC Chicago reports that the trucker was hospitalized and is in stable condition.

When I type up the Streetsblog Chicago Today's Headlines link list each weekday morning, it's not uncommon to read in other publications about Chicagoland drivers accidentally crashing their vehicles into buildings. Sometimes the motorists and building occupants aren't hurt, but there's significant property damage. However, tragically, innocent people are often seriously injured or even killed in these incidents. Here are two recent Chicagoland news stories involving this issue.

A building crash cut short the life of Sean Patrick Richards, 14, in Hinsdale

Sean Patrick Richards

Of all the building crash cases I've heard about in the Chicago area in recent months, this is one of the most tragic. On Monday, July 17, at about 2:36 p.m. Sean Patrick Richards, 14, was on foot in front of Fontano Deli and Subs, 9 S. Lincoln Street in suburban Hinsdale, according to local police. A 16-year-old Jeep driver was leaving Fullers Car Wash, on the other side of Lincoln, when they veered towards the sub shop, striking Sean and hitting the restaurant's wall.

Sean was taken to Chicago Comer Children's Hospital in critical condition, police said. The driver seriously injured three other people, who were also hospitalized, while a fourth person suffered minor injuries. The motorist was not injured.

Fontano Deli and Subs and Fullers Car Wash in Hinsdale, looking south. Image: Google Maps

On Friday morning Sean's family released a statement that the boy, who had recently graduated from 8th grade and was looking forward to high school, died from his injuries on Thursday, July 20. "We are devastated and will forever have a large hole in our hearts," they said. "Sean was a gentle soul who was always both humble and kind. Full of joy, he was the most loving child and was a friend to everyone he met."

On Friday, Hinsdale police told NBC Chicago they were waiting for test results from the Illinois State Police, and black box data for the Jeep.

Traffic calming added after Bronzeville building crash – five years after it was requested

There was more positive news yesterday when CBS Chicago reported that the Chicago Department of Transportation has installed traffic calming at 51st Street and Prairie Avenue in Bronzeville, after a building crash there last March. The intersection, just west of the 51st Green Line station, had previously seen a high number of crashes, to the extent that that residents started taking photos of the damaged vehicles to document the collisions.

Urban Juncture's office at 51st and Prairie, near the 51st Green Line station, looking east. Image: Google Maps

In 2018, community organization Urban Juncture, located at the northeast corner of the intersection, lobbied local Alderperson Pat Dowell (3rd) to do something to improve safety, CBS reported. But it wasn't until March 2023, when a driver struck the front of Urban Juncture's office on the northeast corner of the intersection, that action was finally taken.

According to CBS, soon after that crash CDOT did a traffic study of 51st/Prairie and recommended adding four-way stop signs, which were recently installed. The department also added low-cost sidewalk bump-outs, using paint and flexible plastic posts to shorten crossing distances and discourage turning drivers from whipping around the corners at high speeds. (Obviously, this would be a more effective strategy if the city had invested in concrete curb extensions here instead.)

"Pedestrian safety is extremely critical especially at this intersection and small things can make a really big difference," Urban Juncture's director of partnerships and engagement Sandria Washington told CBS.

That's very true. But residents shouldn't have to wait five years, until a driver strikes their building, for city officials to make requested, badly-needed traffic safety improvements to an intersection.

Click here to check out the CBS and NBC reports.

donate button

Did you appreciate this post? Please consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

CTAction: It’s silly for CTA to update timetables to reflect “more scheduled rail service” when it can’t deliver its current schedule

The grassroots transit advocacy group says there's no point in advertising more service on the new timetables when the CTA isn't actually providing it.

July 11, 2024

Transit advocates voice support for 9 Ashland bus extension, transportation committee approves it

A full City Council vote is needed to finalize the project, and the next Council meeting is next Wednesday, July 17.

July 11, 2024

How can we avoid fiscal derailment? Transit agencies, chambers of commerce take opposite sides on the consolidation debate

RTA, CTA, Metra, and Pace chiefs said they need more funding but are opposed to unification. The chamber leaders said the agencies shouldn't get one without the other.

July 10, 2024
See all posts