Update on cab crash that killed Eric Kerestes

[flickr]photo:6119129825[/flickr]

Kerestes was likely near the advertising bench underneath the CVS and bank sign. 

There’s a significant update in the story of cabdriver John Kesse, his manic driving, and the death of Eric Kerestes, on his way to work. Kesse was arrested Monday for reckless homicide; bail has been set at $200,000. Congregants at a church Kesse helped found in Lincoln Square plan to raise the 10% needed to release Kesse from jail.

The driving situation was wild and obscene:

Kesse had just picked up a fare in his Checker cab about 6 a.m. on Aug. 14 when he accelerated south on Milwaukee Avenue, weaving in and out of traffic and “driving into the oncoming traffic lane to pass the cars in front of him,” Assistant State’s Atty. Sylvie Manaster said in court.

Kesse blew through red lights at Noble Street and then Chicago Avenue, Manaster said. His cab then jumped a curb near the entrance to the Chicago Avenue Blue Line stop and knocked down two light poles before veering across Milwaukee and Ogden Avenues and striking Eric Kerestes, a University of Chicago MBA student who was waiting to catch a bus for work, Manaster said.

Kerestes, 30, was thrown more than 200 feet and pronounced dead at the scene, the prosecutor said. The taxi passenger, Michael Kim, 28, suffered a fractured spine and a bruised lung, she said.

Witnesses told police the cab was traveling at least 60 mph, double the speed limit, before it crashed.

We appreciate that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office seems to be taking this case seriously. Kerestes’s wife is suing the City of Chicago, the cabdriver, and Checker Cab, for wrongful death.

There does seem to be missing information: there is no bus stop at Milwaukee/Ogden, at any corner. And especially not under the CVS sign, which is where some reports say Kerestes was sitting. There is a bench at the northeast corner of Milwaukee/Ogden, in the northbound Milwaukee Avenue direction, under the CVS sign. But this is not for a bus stop, for advertising only. If Kerestes was waiting for a bus, which bus route was he waiting for, and at which corner? There is only one CTA bus stop bench at this six-way intersection, for the westbound 66 Chicago bus on Chicago Avenue between Milwaukee and Ogden Avenues.

20 thoughts on “Update on cab crash that killed Eric Kerestes”

  1. I seriously hope that Mr. Kesse has been suspended from his cab duties pending the investigation, given that he has been released from jail on bond.

  2. Sorry to hear some of your information is missing. I’ve got an update for you: PEOPLE ARE NOT DATA POINTS! Kerestes was a human being, a person, and his death was tragic. His family is in grief, his friends and loved ones are in pain and you are posting death reports and tracking them on your front page. I’ve got some more information for you Mr. Steven Vance: 35% of you posts in the last two months have been about death. That’s probably enough fodder to start a whole new blog devoted to how people die related to transportation in Chicago. Oh, yeah except people who die inside of vehicles. I guess they don’t count as transportation deaths because they’re just robots until they get out of their car. When this blog started I was so hopeful that it would be a great insight into what is really happening with transportation in Chicago. How we are moving forward to create a more livable city and what cool/innovative new projects the city is taking on. But I was wrong, it has become your platform to complain, and throw negativity in every direction with your Rush Limbaugh style of reporting. You have a way with taking something new and exciting and then bringing to light not the positives but how it really is a terrible thing all along. And with your death tracker I have had enough. How are we ever supposed to move forward as a city when you keep dragging us down with all of the worst Chicago transportation has to offer? We all wish for a better Chicago and better transportation, but maybe you should stop using a person’s death as a platform and start asking yourself how you can actually make a positive impact on the place we call home.

    1. We certainly sympathize with the Kerestes family and hope that justice is served. The goal of the Fatality Tracker is to draw attention to pedestrian, bike and transit deaths, especially in cases like this one where an innocent person lost their life because of someone else’s dangerous behavior and/or the way Chicago’s transportation system is designed. We hope that by putting this info out there we will encourage people to work to solve these problems. Initiatives like the city’s new Pedestrian Plan, with the goal of zero pedestrian fatalities, are encouraging steps in this direction. And we don’t view people in cars as robots. We just try to avoid using language, common in news reports, that suggests fatal crashes are unavoidable “accidents” caused by inanimate objects, rather than poor decisions by people.

    2. The fatality tracker is not a game, as you seem to imply. It’s purpose is to bring to light the dangerous situations walkers and bikers face in Chicago on a day-to-day basis. This blog would certainly love to never post another entry to the fatality tracker, but the sad reality is that people are getting killed far too often by crazy, unsafe motorists. I’ve been an avid reader of Grid Chicago from the beginning, and they definitely advocate for safer streets.

      1. Thanks Adam. You’re correct that the reason we’ve had so many posts on fatalities recently is not because we enjoy writing about the subject but because there were ten pedestrian deaths in August, way more than the usual average of about three per month.

    3. PAP wrote:
      >?except people who die inside of vehicles. I guess they don’t count as
      transportation deaths because they’re just robots until they get out of
      their car.<

      People who die inside of vehicles are usually well-reported on in the major news outlets. GridChicago exists to fill a very clear void in local transportation reporting; in terms of ped-transportation-death tracking as well as a wide assortment of other non-private-motorized transportation matters. Allow me to explain further, in the context of transportation deaths.

      Who's the most vulnerable user of the city's streets? Pedestrians and pedal-cyclsts, by far, as they inherently lack a solid metal cage around their feeble bodies. Who also gets the least media coverage, or most misunderstood coverage (e.g. calling crashes "accidents" as if they were acts of god)? Same answer: pedestrians and pedal-cyclists. Therein lies the void in media coverage. Kudos to Steven & John for recognizing this and doing something about it.

      Automobile driver deaths are up on Illinois roadways this year, and that's caught the attention of IDOT, who has made some efforts to campaign for more attention on the road by drivers. Major media outlets picked this story up and spread the campaign further. However, I've yet to ever see IDOT or major media take on a pedestrian-safety campaign. This is why I so whole-heatedly am in support of GridChicago's fatality tracker. Steven & John are reporting an important piece of news and giving it context by tracking these deaths rather than piece-mailing individual ped-deaths.

      Lastly, PAP, your inflammatory, personalized language towards Steven greatly undercuts the validity of your criticism. I give further credit to GridChicago for posting your anger-toned message, as this shows how Steven & John are willing to create space for both critics and supporters alike.

    4. Your comment brings to mind the old joke that ends, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”

      I disagree with Steven and John about a lot of things, and I’m frequently voval about it, but one thing I definitely agree with them about is the need to cover incidents like this. There is a very real downside to transportation in this city in that sometimes people die. And far too often, these deaths could be prevented. We can not and should not sweep incidents like this under the rug. It needs to be made known, so we can see the current reality of transportation and discuss what needs improvement. Ignoring it in favor of pretty pictures and feel-good stories won’t make it go away.

  3. Seriously ? A man dies sitting on a bench because the idiot cab driver broke several laws and you question what bus the victim was waiting for? Who cares??!? He was on the sidewalk lawfully and got killed by an idiot was was driving unlawfully and jumped the curb.

    1. John and I think that he wasn’t actually sitting on any bench but was crossing the street.
      The bench was not for a bus – it’s purely there for advertising. I’d like to know the full story so there’s no wrong information being spread around.

    2. Obviously, this is a minor detail in this important case, but since there’s no bus stop there, there is a Blue Line entrance across the street and Kerestes worked a short walk from the Blue Line Cumberland station, I’m pretty sure it will come out that he was on his way to the Blue Line, not waiting for a bus.

  4. The victim worked at the end of the blue line the entrance to which was across the street from where he was hit. He was probably at or approaching the corner on the way to the blue line subway entrance.

  5. Interesting how the media has all but convicted this cabdriver, who is not an “idiot” by any definition. The cab provided to him malfunctioned almost immediately after it was supplied to him. The brakes failed, and the witnesses will testify to that. Shame on whoever approved the charge of reckless homicide at the State’s Attorney office.

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