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

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.

Joshua Anleu Buendia:

Update 3/19/24, 9:40 AM: CBS's Marybel Gonzalez reports that the driver, Jennifer Kurtz, has been charged with a DUI, and Joshua's mother Karen Buendia is fighting to bring the motorist to trial and improve traffic safety.

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.

US 45 / Mannheim Road looking south towards Armitage Avenue, where James Bowman was fatally struck. Image: Google Maps

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.

Image of the collision from the crash report.

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.

The intersection, looking east on Waveland. Image: Google Maps

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."

Read the Tribune article here for more statements about Joshua Anleu Buendia's life.

Streetsblog Chicago Fatality Tracker

Pedestrian: 25

Bicyclist: 5

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.

2023 Chicago bike fatalities

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

FOIAed letter shows Ald. Hopkins asked CDOT to scrape out dashed bike lanes from Dearborn in posh Gold Coast

The alder says constituents in this affluent neighborhood feel the new street layout is "very problematic and unsafe", but the same configuration has worked fine in other communities.

July 13, 2024

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 voiced support for 9 Ashland bus extension, transportation committee approved 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
See all posts