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Pedestrian Fatalities

Turning driver who failed to yield killed married couple Zofia Chruszcz, 72, and Ryszard Stebnicki, 75

Video shows that the seniors were walking to church when the motorist ran them down in an unmarked crosswalk at Archer/McVicker in Garfield Ridge.

Zofia Chruszcz and Ryszard Stebnicki.

Tragically, the driver of a high-front-end pickup truck failed to yield while making a left turn, fatally striking Zofia Chruszcz, 72, and her husband, Ryszard Stebnicki, 75, as they walked hand-in-hand to church. The motorist was only issued a single ticket, and relatives have said they want more information on how he caused the deadly crash.

According to the initial Chicago Police Department report, on Sunday, February 25, around 8:50 a.m., Chruszcz and Stebnicki were walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Archer Avenue (about 5400 S. at this location) and McVicker Street (6030 W.)

A 2018 Ford F150 pickup truck. Photo: Kevauto via Wikipedia

The driver of a 2017 Ford F150 pickup truck made a left turn at the intersection. This kind of pickup has a high front end, which makes it likely a struck pedestrian will go under the wheels, rather than over the hood. At this location Archer is a four-lane street, and McVicker has no marked north-south crosswalks, but it has "unmarked crosswalks," because the sidewalks lead into the street.

Overhead view of Archer/McVicker. Image: Google Maps

According to the initial report, the driver struck the two seniors in the unmarked crosswalk. Chruszcz was taken to Loyola Hospital and Stebnicki was transported to Christ Hopital, both in critical condition. They were later pronounced dead.

The driver remained at the scene and was cited for failure to exercise due care for pedestrians in the roadway, the CPD report said. As of Sunday, March 10, no other citations had been given.

Image of the collision from the traffic crash report.

The CPD-created traffic crash report provides initial information of what reportedly happened. The victims lived just south of the intersection. The driver, a 43-year-old man, lives a short distance north of the intersection.

"[The southbound pickup driver] entered Archer Avenue from McVicker [Avenue] while turning left, [north]eastbound on Archer," the report says. It states that the motorist struck the "pedestrians that entered the roadway to cross Archer Avenue on McVickers," indicating Chruszcz and Stebnicki were in the unmarked crosswalk in the east leg of the intersection. The driver told police "that he didn't see them and that the sun was glaring," the report states. He submitted to a DUI test blood draw.

Looking south towards Archer/McVicker. The seniors were in the unmarked crosswalk on the east leg of the intersection (left side of this image) when the left-turning southbound driver struck them. Image: Google Maps

There are two obvious takeaways from this tragedy. Archer/McVicker, which is in the 23rd Ward, represented by Ald. Silvana Tabares, needs to be marked with north-south crosswalks to warn drivers to watch out for people crossing Archer here. This is an unsignalized intersection, and there are stoplights one block west of McVicker at Meade Avenue (6100 W.) and one block east at Austin Avenue (6000 W.) But a church and a school are located one block north of Archer/McVicker, so it's probably fairly common for people, including children, to cross Archer here.

While Archer/McVicker is halfway between intersections with stoplights and marked crosswalks, it's also one block south of a church and school, and may have been the most direct walking route for the seniors from their home on McVicker south of Archer to church services that morning. Image: Google Maps.

And while it's true that the driver was heading into the sun that morning, it was still his responsibility to make sure he didn't strike anyone, even through the seniors weren't in a signalized intersection with a marked crosswalk. As the Active Transportation Alliance advocacy group noted, state law dictates that "Illinois drivers must come to a complete stop for pedestrians in any of [these] crosswalks: marked, unmarked, signalized or unsignalized."

According to an ABC report, Chruszcz and Stebnicki were walking to church when they were struck, their family said. "Our lives are changed forever," said Zofia's granddaughter Dominika Chruszcz. "We will never have them back." Security footage shows that the seniors were walking north on McVicker holding hands when they came to Archer, and the pickup driver knocked them down.

Screenshot of the video footage of the pickup driver about to strike the pedestrians. The camera was facing northeast. Image via ABC Chicago

According to ABC, the couple, who both grew up in Poland, met in the U.S., and were married for 13 years. Zofia Chruszcz was previously an architect, and was recently active in Chicago's Polish-American community.

NBC reported that Zofia Chruszcz was planning to travel to the Caribbean later that month. Stebnicki, who also enjoyed travel, was an enthusiastic collector of watches and cameras.

"I want closure, and my family wants closure," Dominika Chruszcz told ABC. "If someone was just turning from a stop sign, how can you create such devastating damages?"

Read Obituaries for Zofia Chruszcz and Ryszard Stebnicki at these links.

Chicago Fatality Tracker

Pedestrian: 7

Bicyclist: 0

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.

2024 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases

• On March 3, 2024, an SUV driver fatally struck a man police said was "sitting in the street" on the 3100 block of West Marquette Road in Chicago Lawn.

• On February 25, 2024, a pickup driver failed to yield while making a left turn, fatally striking married couple Zofia Chruszcz, 72, and Ryszard Stebnicki, 75, in an unmarked crosswalk at Archer and McVicker avenues in Garfield Ridge.

• On February 22, 2024, a driver fatally struck a male pedestrian, 52, who was crossing South King Drive at 47th Street in the Grand Boulevard community.

• On February 8, 2024, a hit-and-run pickup driver ran a red and fatally struck 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.

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