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Hit-and-run pickup driver struck and killed Jiekun Xu, 68, on Pulaski Road where traffic deaths are common

Jiekun Xu was the fourth pedestrian or bike rider fatally struck on Chicago's Pulaski Road in less than a year.

Jiekun Xu

Tragically, a pickup truck driver fatally struck Jiekun Xu last Thursday afternoon at 44th Street and Pulaski Road (4000 W.) in the Archer Heights neighborhood, and fled the scene. Pulaski is dangerous car-centric street where traffic deaths are common.

According to the initial Chicago Police Department statement, on Thursday, February 8, around 4:52 p.m., Xu was crossing Pulaski at 44th. The driver of a Dodge Ram pickup ran a red line, struck the senior, and drove off north on Pulaski.

Xu, who lived near the crash site on the 4300 block of South Komensky Avenue (4030 W.), was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where she was pronounced dead around 5:32 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Image of the collision from the traffic crash report.

The traffic crash report reveals more about what reportedly happened. It shows that Xu was crossing in the crosswalk in the north leg of 44th/Pulaski.

Four witnesses were listed. One told responding officers that he was standing at intersection facing north, waiting for the stoplight for north-south traffic to turn green. That's when he saw the northbound white pickup with tinted windows whose driver disregard the signal and struck Xu. The sketch of the crash, shown above, indicates that the motorist was switching lanes when they struck Xu as she was crossing, and she was thrown northeast towards the curb.

Police have released this image of the vehicle, which may be a Ford F150 or a RAM 1500. People with information about the killing are asked to call Major Accident Investigation Unit at 312-745-4521.

Image: CPD

According to a CBS News report by Jeramie Bizzle and Suzanne Le Mignot, Xu was in the habit of stopping by the Pete's Fresh Market at the northeast corner of the crash intersection, picking up groceries, and taking them home to cook meals for her family. Her daughter Lihua Zhang said Xu, who immigrated from China and worked part time at her family's printing business, had lived in the neighborhood for years.

Zhang said stoplight running is frequent at that intersection. "The traffic there is very busy. Sometimes crazy. A lot of people rush across the red light. Of course now they're killing people." She said she wants to see action taken to prevent the senseless traffic violence that took her mother from her. "Maybe more cameras, more rules, more security, something."

Witness Beatriz Garza said a red light camera is definitely needed at this intersection. "When I take the bus at 5:30, every [drive] goes on the red light... every car, no stop. No respect. Nothing."

44th/Pulaski is location in the 14th Ward, represented by recently elected Ald. Jeylu Gutierrez. Local residents who want to see a red light camera installed should call the ward office at 773-236-0117 to advocate for it.

44th and Pulaski, looking north. Image: Google Maps

Pulaski is generally a wide, 5-lane street that encourages speeding, and at this intersection it has seven lanes and no pedestrian islands, making it a very hazardous place for people on foot to cross. Last year drivers killed three vulnerable road users on Pulaski in other parts of town:

• 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 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 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.

Check out the CBS Chicago report here.

Chicago Fatality Tracker

Pedestrian: 3

Bicyclist: 0

2024 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

• On February 8, 2024, a hit-and-run pickup driver ran a red and fatally struck a Jiekun Xu, 68, as she crossed Pulaski Road at 44th Street in Archer Heights.

• On January 21, 2024, a hit-and-run SUV driver struck and killed David Marshall Hoyle III, 35, as he crossed 95th Street at Union Avenue in Washington Heights. 

• On January 7, 2024, a hit-and-run SUV driver struck and killed Jason Kardish, 40, as he crossed Ashland Avenue at Diversey Parkway in Lincoln Park.

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.

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