Joshua Anleu Buendia, 16, fatally struck in Portage Park, was one of five people killed while biking in Chicago this year
His case was one of three Chicagoland bike fatalities reported by local news outlets this week.
6:08 PM CDT on October 26, 2023
This has been a terrible week for news about bike fatality cases in the Chicago area.
On the evening of Monday, October 23, an allegedly intoxicated hit-and-run driver fatally struck ceramicist Donald Heggemann, 59, as he rode his bike in a non-protected bike lane on the 5100 north block of Damen Avenue (2000 W.) in Lincoln Square. The motorist, who was detained by police and failed a Breathalyzer, was eventually released without charges, although a CPD spokesperson said the case is still under investigation.
Then on the morning of Tuesday, October 24, Chicago resident James Bowman, 52, was biking east on Armitage Avenue in west-suburban Melrose Park when a driver heading south on six-lane US-45 / Mannheim Road made a turn and fatally struck Bowman. Police cited the motorist with failure to yield.
Also on Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune ran a story on another local bicycling death from earlier this month, that apparently hadn't been previously reported by other news outlets. Sadly, a third negligent driver fatally struck Joshua Anleu Buendia, 16 – described by loved ones and teachers as a talented, motivated, and outgoing teen – while he was biking near his home in the Portage Park community.
According to the initial Chicago Police Department statement, on Wednesday, October 4, at about 7:30 PM, Joshua was biking near the 5300 west block of Waveland Avenue (3700 N.) A woman, 41, was driving a black sedan east when she reportedly stopped at a stop sign and then proceeded, striking the boy.
Joshua was taken to Stroger Hospital in critical condition, the CPD statement says. He later died from his injuries.
The driver, who was uninjured, was cited for failure to exercise due caution for a person in the roadway, according to the police statement. The case remains under investigation.
The traffic crash report provides more information about what reportedly happened. It shows that the collision took place at the intersection of Waveland and Long Avenue (5400 W.), the junction of two residential streets with all-way stop signs. Waveland is one-way eastbound here, while Long is two-way. The report state that the driver lives near the crash site, while the bike rider lives a few blocks south.
The only witness to the crash listed on the report has the same last name as the driver.
The crash report's narrative states that responding officers arrived at the collision site to find Joshua lying on the southeast corner of the intersection, receiving chest compressions from a nearby resident who didn't witness the crash.
After Joshua was transported to the hospital, he was treated for head injuries, according to the report. He died from his injuries on October 6.
The report says the driver who struck the teen told the officers she had stopped at the stop sign, where she didn't see the bike rider. She said that when she proceeded she heard and felt something on the right side of her vehicle.
Given that the intersection appears to have clear sight lines, the driver's account of the crash raises a question. If she stopped at her stop sign, how was it possible for her to strike Joshua without seeing him first if she wasn't driving distracted?
According to the report, one of the officers spoke to another minor who said he "was riding his bicycle in the area during the time of the [crash] but didn't want to provide contact info to the officer."
The report says the driver was taken to Resurrection Hospital for voluntary blood and urine testing. The bicycle was inventoried as evidence.
The Tribune reported that Joshua liked rap music and video games often rode a pink bike to the Portage Park green space. He was interested in being a clothes designer, or a dental hygienist like his mother Karen Buendia.
Buendia told the Tribune she warned her son that he should always behave safely while riding a bike, because drivers can't always be trusted to do so. Since Joseph was struck, she's afraid to operate a car herself. "I don’t want to drive just because I might run over someone else’s kid," she said.
A verified GoFundMe page has been launched to cover funeral and memorial expenses, and has raised over $10,500. "I was Joshua’s U.S. history teacher and really enjoyed having him in my class this year," posted Scott Baran, who works at Schurz High School, where the teen was a sophomore. "He had an incredible sense of humor, tremendous charisma, and really enjoyed learning with his three closest friends in his work group. Joshua always exhibited a tremendous smile demonstrating his passion for learning, socializing with his friends, and his interest in learning."
Streetsblog Chicago Fatality Tracker
2023 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases
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.
- On October 6, 2023. a hit-and-run pick-up truck driver fatally struck 55-year-old man on the 1900 block of West Cermak in Pilsen.
- On October 5, 2023, An SUV driver fatally struck a man, 70, while making left turn at 57th Street and Pulaski Road in West Elsdon, and a sedan driver also struck the victim.
- On October 4, 2023, a turning trucker fatally struck Chauncie J. Lewis while he was lying on the sidewalk at the northeast corner of Congress Parkway and Kostner Avenue in West Rogers Park.
- On September 21, 2023, the southbound driver of a white SUV fatally struck Lidia Morales, 46, in the 5900 block of South King Drive, next to Washington Park.
- On September 18, 2023, the drivers of a sedan and a crossover SUV crashed at the intersection of Peterson and California avenues in West Ridge, and one of the vehicles veered towards an unidentified man on the sidewalk, killing him.
- On September 9, 2023, a hit-and-run sedan driver struck and killed a male pedestrian, 56, on the 500 block of South Independence Boulevard in Garfield Park.
- On August 23, 2023, an SUV driver with a suspended license failed to yield while making a turn from Hoyne Avenue onto Cermak Road and fatally struck Irene Celestino Devillino, 48, in the crosswalk.
- On August 20, 2023 a hit-and-run sedan driver fatally struck Ulysses Coleman, 38, in the 5200 block of North Avenue in Austin.
- On July 25, 2023 a hit-and-run driver killed pedestrian Soyfa Athamanah, 69, in 5100-block of N. Broadway in Uptown.
- On July 13, 2023, a man was fatally injured after he was dragged by a driver and he struck another motorist's car at 818 S. Pulaski Rd.
- On May 29, 2023, a hit-and-run driver killed Angela R. Mcknight, 49, crossing in the 1200 block of S. Independence Dr.
- On April 14, 2023, a Chrysler driver fatally struck a man, 59, on the 8800 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chatham.
- On April 8, 2023, a turning sedan driver struck and killed Tracy Burton, 55, crossing the street at Laramie Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in Austin.
- On March 29,2023, a sedan driver struck and killed a male pedestrian, 46, on the 2000 block of North Cicero in Belmont Cragin.
- On March 25, 2023, a driver ran a stop sign at Washington and Green streets in the West Loop, fatally striking James Robert Thompson and fled the scene.
- On March 19, 2023, a left-turning van driver fatally struck Guo Ning Li, 78, in a crosswalk at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue in Chinatown.
- On February 20, 2023, a right-turning FedEx step van driver ran over and killed Marsha Frankel, 72, in a crosswalk at Roosevelt Road and Wabash Avenue in the South Loop.
- On February 14, 2023, a CTA bus driver fatally struck Kevin Herrera, 28, at at 47th Street and Ashland Avenue in Back of the Yards.
- On February 7, 2023, a driver fatally struck Erik S. Wills, 49, on the 8800 block of South May Street in Gresham.
- On February 6, 2023, a motorist struck and killed Stevenson Mays, 59, on the 5600 block of South Racine Avenue in West Englewood and fled the scene.
- On January 27, 2023, two drivers collided on the 5000 block of West Washington Street in Austin and fatally struck Jennifer Kelleher, 25, and then both fled the scene.
- On January 26, 2023, an SUV driver fatally struck an unidentified woman, 93, on the 300 block of South Laramie Avenue in Austin and fled the scene.
- On January 10, 2023, a sedan driver struck and killed an unidentified man, 33, on the 3500 block of West Lake Street in East Garfield Park and fled the scene.
- On January 3, 2023, a cargo van driver fatally struck Jaime Cuadra, 47, as he was exiting a vehicle on 87th Street in front of the Red Line station.
- On January 2, 2023, a 45-year-old man was crossing Lafayette Avenue at 79th Street in Chatham when a speeding driver ran a red, fatally struck him, and fled the scene on foot.
- On January 2, 2023, near 72nd Street and Damen Avenue in West Englewood, Roy Lee, 21, was getting into his car when a driver swerved into oncoming lanes, fatally struck Lee and hit three parked cars, then fled the scene on foot.
2023 Chicago bike fatalities
- On October 23, 2023, an allegedly intoxicated car-driver fatally struck Donald Heggemann, 59, who was biking north at 5115 N. Damen Ave. in the Lincoln Square community area.
- On October 4, 2023, a sedan driver fatally struck Joshua Anleu, 16, as he biked through the intersection of Waveland and Long avenues in the Portage Park community.
- On June 24, 2023, a left-turning driver fatally struck Józef Strus, 67, who was riding a bike at 57th Street and Natchez Avenue in Garfield Ridge.
- On June 7, 2023, bike rider Ron Mendoza, 43, died from injuries sustained in a July 5 crash with a car driver at Wrightwood Avenue and Pulaski Road in Logan Square.
- On May 7, 2023, bike rider Rick Lomas was traveling south on California Avenue in Humboldt Park when he was was fatally struck by a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix driver who left the scene.
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