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Chicago Teacher Killed in Hit-and-Run on Pulaski, Highlighting Ongoing Traffic Safety Issues

Wet and empty pedestrian crosswalk on a city street.

Hit-and-run drivers pose a danger to Chicago pedestrians and bicyclists. Fatal incidents involving hit-and-run drivers and people on foot or riding bikes can leave a trail of unanswered questions and unimaginable grief for the victim's family. Beyond the immediate physical harm, fatal pedestrian accidents in Chicago reverberate through the community. Every statistic we encounter is not just a number; it's a story of disrupted lives and long-term pain and suffering.

Hit-And-Run Tragedy Strikes Chicago

In a recent tragic incident, a red Chevrolet sedan struck and killed Charles "Charlie" Mills, a 56-year-old Chicago Public Schools teacher on South Pulaski Road in West Lawn. The driver immediately fled the scene. This event followed a community meeting in Archer Heights, where residents demanded action against traffic violence. A recent WBEZ report also brought attention to the area's traffic hazards. This includes 430 trucks passing in an hour at a Pulaski intersection.

Mills taught at Jones College Prep. The school stated, "Charlie was a beloved member of our Diverse Learner team who also offered his expertise to our many performing arts productions. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time."

Elizabeth Romero, a daycare worker near 43rd and Pulaski, highlighted the hazardous conditions of Pulaski Road. She cited near misses with vehicles, frequent accidents, and car races. Pulaski Road's width and layout often contribute to speeding.

Hit-And-Run Pedestrian Accidents Remain An Ongoing Problem in Chicago

Several fatal pedestrian and bicycle accidents happened in the area over the last nine months, including:

  • July 13, 2023: A pedestrian suffered fatal injuries after being dragged by one vehicle and hit by another car at 818 S. Pulaski Rd.
  • July 5, 2023: Ron Mendoza, 43, succumbed to injuries from a crash with a car at Wrightwood Avenue and Pulaski Road.
  • October 5, 2023: An SUV struck and killed a 70-year-old man crossing Pulaski Road at 57th Street. A sedan struck him a second time.
  • January 7, 2024: A fleeing SUV hit and killed 40-year-old Jason Kardish while he crossed the street on Ashland Avenue at Diversey Parkway in Lincoln Park.
  • January 21, 2024: An SUV struck 35-year-old David Marshall Hoyle III in a hit-and-run. This occurred on 95th Street at Union Avenue in Washington Heights.
  • February 8, 2024: Sixty-eight-year-old Jiekun Xu lost her life to a hit-and-run pickup that ignored a red light at Pulaski Road and 44th Street in Archer Heights.
  • February 22, 2024: A 52-year-old man was killed while crossing South King Drive at 47th Street in Grand Boulevard.
  • February 25, 2024: A pickup truck making a left turn fatally struck 72-year-old Zofia Chruszcz and 75-year-old Ryszard Stebnicki at an unmarked crosswalk at Archer and McVicker avenues in Garfield Ridge.
  • March 3, 2024: An SUV driver struck and killed a man on the 3100 block of West Marquette Road in Chicago Lawn.
  • March 31, 2024: A fleeing sedan hit and killed Charles Mills in the 6400 block of South Pulaski Road in West Lawn.

Why Do Drivers Flee From The Scene Of Pedestrian Accidents?

Drivers may flee pedestrian accidents for various reasons, often driven by panic, fear of consequences, or attempts to evade responsibility. Some common factors contributing to this behavior include:

Fear of Legal Consequences

Drivers may flee the scene out of fear of facing legal repercussions, such as being charged with negligence, reckless driving, or even vehicular manslaughter if the pedestrian sustains severe injuries or dies.

Lack of Insurance or Valid Documentation

Individuals driving without valid insurance or proper documentation may choose to flee to avoid legal penalties or financial liabilities associated with the accident.

Intoxication or Impairment

In cases where the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may flee to avoid detection and potential DUI charges, increasing the severity of the offense.

Emotional Distress

The shock and stress of being involved in a pedestrian accident can lead to irrational decision-making, prompting the driver to flee the scene in a state of panic or distress.

Prior Criminal Record

Drivers with a history of traffic violations, criminal offenses, or outstanding warrants may flee to evade arrest or prosecution, exacerbating their legal troubles.

There's Never An Excuse To Hit-And-Run

Despite these motivations, fleeing the scene of a pedestrian accident is illegal and can have severe consequences. It not only compounds the harm caused to the victim but also constitutes a criminal offense punishable by fines, license suspension, and potential imprisonment.

In addition to facing criminal charges, drivers who flee the scene of a pedestrian accident may also be subject to civil liability through personal injury lawsuits. Civil cases are separate and distinct from criminal charges, focusing on compensating the victim for their damages rather than punishing the defendant.

In a civil lawsuit, the injured pedestrian or their family members can seek financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages resulting from the incident. Unlike criminal cases, where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, civil cases require the plaintiff to demonstrate the defendant's negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that the defendant's actions or inactions caused the harm.

Even if a driver is not criminally charged or convicted for fleeing the scene of a pedestrian accident, they may still be held accountable in civil court for their negligence. Through civil litigation, victims can pursue justice and obtain the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses, providing a measure of financial relief and closure in the aftermath of a devastating accident.

Keating Law Offices Fights For Injured Pedestrians

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices, P.C. often see the long-term harm hit-and-run pedestrian accidents cause to victims and their families. If you or a loved one was injured by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago, we're here to help you demand justice and accountability. We provide the advocacy and support needed during recovery and fight for fair compensation. Contact us or call our Chicago law offices at 833-CALL-KLO for a free legal consultation. We'll guide you on your rights and options for compensation.

Keating Law Offices is a sponsor of Streetsblog.

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