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Pedestrian Fatality

Hit-and-run driver killed pedestrian Soyfa Athamanah, 69, as she crossed Broadway in Uptown.

Sun-Times photographer Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere witnessed the killing, and said he thinks it was intentional.

The intersection of Winona Avenue and Broadway this evening, looking north. While the marked crosswalk on the south side of the intersection has a pedestrian island, the one on the north side does not. And if a person is walking east to Broadway on the south sidewalk of Winona, or west to Broadway on the north side of Winona, there is no direct marked crosswalk for them at all. Photo: John Greenfield

Update, 7/27/23, 11:45 AM: ABC Chicago reports that Athamana's children are honoring their mother, and begging the driver who killed her to turn themself in so they can have closure. Her son Tony Khounphachan described Athamana, who immigrated to Chicago from Laos, as a "single mom [who] did both jobs, raised me to be a man, loved to cook, always had a smile on her face." He added, "My fault is never learning her recipes. Now I can't."

Khounphachan and friends have created a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses that has raised over $7,800.

Soyfa Athamanah. Image via GoFundMe.

For the first time in 2023, there was a pedestrian death in one of Chicago's North Lakefront neighborhoods last night. A speeding hit-and-run driver struck and killed Soyfa Athamanah, 69, as she crossed Broadway in Uptown.

According to the Chicago Police Department, on Tuesday, July 25, at about 10:35 p.m. Athamanah was crossing Broadway at Winona Avenue (5100 N.) The driver of a black car, possibly a Honda sedan, was driving north when they fatally struck the senior and then fled north.

The victim suffered "an external injury of the head" and was transported by the Chicago Fire Department to Illinois Masonic Hospital, according to CPD. Athamanah, who lived in the 4400 block of North Wolcott Avenue in Lincoln Square, was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

As of this afternoon, no one was is custody, police said. People with information are asked to call the Major Accident Investigation Unit at (312) 745-4521.

Aerial view of Winona Avenue where it jogs at Broadway. Image Google Maps

Winona jogs at Broadway. The marked crosswalk on the south side of the intersection has a pedestrian island. However, the one on the north side the junction does not, due to the presence of a left-turn lane for a supermarket and a doughnut shop. And if a person is walking east to Broadway on the south sidewalk of Winona, or west to Broadway on the north side of Winona, there is no direct marked crosswalk for them at all.

Image of the collision from the CPD crash report.

A depiction of the collision on the CPD crash report indicates that Athamanah was crossing Broadway on the north side of the intersection, so there was no pedestrian island for her to use. It appears that the driver swerved into the southbound lanes when they struck Athamanah.

According to the report, the responding officers saw blood on the street when they arrived. There were multiple security cameras near the intersection. Witnesses include Chicago Sun-Times photographer Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere, who said he happened to be driving home on Broadway right behind the hit-and-run driver.

Shortly after the crash, LaRiviere started a Twitter thread on his experiences, stating that he believed the driver intended to strike the woman. "Just witnessed someone speed up and intention[ally] strike a woman while [she was] crossing Broadway and Winona," he said in his first post. "Called police and EMS but I think this woman is dead."

“I didn’t see brake lights,” LaRiviere was quoted as saying in a Sun-Times report. “I saw him swerve and speed up a bit. She then flew into the air... The [driver] swerved again and I thought they were going to pull to the side and take accountability, but they continued to drive on." 

The intersection is on the border of the 47th and 48th wards. A Streetsblog reader tweeted this morning that he had previously warned the ward offices and the Chicago Department of Transportation that, given the layout of the intersection, it was inevitable that someone would be killed there.

Streetsblog Chicago Fatality Tracker

Pedestrian: 17

Bicyclist: 3

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.

View an interactive map of 2023 Chicago pedestrian and bike fatalities here.

2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

2023 Chicago bike fatalities

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