Fatality tracker: driver jumps curb, kills youth counselor in Roseland

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Crosswalk at Roseland Community Hospital with “Stop for Pedestrians” sign.

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 12 (6 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

For the second time in one week, an out-of-control car crash cut short the promising life of an innocent bystander. Last Tuesday a speeding cab in River West killed engineer, grad student and husband Eric Kerestes, 30. Three days later on Friday around 7:05 AM, Albert Charles, 54, lost control of his vehicle outside Roseland Community Hospital, 45 W.111th Street, hopped the curb and killed Kenneth Collins, 43, according to police. Collins, a mental health counselor at the hospital’s juvenile unit, was on his way to pick up a paycheck. Unlike most drivers involved in pedestrian fatalities this year prior to this crash, Charles did not flee the scene. The police department’s Major Accident Investigation Unit is looking into the cause of the crash.

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Kenneth Collins – photo courtesy of the family.

Collins’ death is a senseless loss on several levels. In a Chicago Tribune article the victim’s mother, Alice Butler-Collins, said that after working for about eight years as a sheriff’s officer at Cook County Jail, her son decided that he wanted to help young African-American men stay out of prison, so he switched careers. He joined the hospital’s staff about a month ago, working with troubled teens in the mental health ward. He was also studying for his PhD at DePaul University, writing his thesis about strategies to prevent the incarceration of young African Americans. Collins had recently proposed to his girlfriend, whom he had known for five years and dated since September. He was saving up for an engagement ring to surprise her with this Christmas.

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Flattened sign near the hospital.

In the Tribune article Mrs. Butler-Collins said, “It was just an accident. A tragic accident.” That was very charitable of her, but I respectfully disagree. When speeding cars kill two productive, well-loved men in the prime of their lives, on sidewalks, within one week, it’s not an accident. It means there is something fundamentally wrong with the way transportation works in our city.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time and includes only people who died in the Chicago city limits. View previous Fatality Tracker posts.

Published by

John Greenfield

John has lived in Chicago since 1989 and has worked a number of bicycle jobs, from messenger to mechanic to managing the Chicago Department of Transportation's bicycle parking program, arranging the installation of over 3,700 bike racks. He writes regularly for Time Out Chicago, Newcity, Momentum and Urban Velo magazines and works at Boulevard Bikes in Logan Square.

4 thoughts on “Fatality tracker: driver jumps curb, kills youth counselor in Roseland”

  1. It’s heartbreaking to hear about another sad, senseless loss of life. Mr. Collins’ family and friends have my sympathy.

    When I was discussing this incident with someone yesterday, I got the question “Why was he transported to another hospital when he was hit outside a hospital?” Many people outside the south side are unaware of the lack of trauma centers here. If someone suffers major injuries from being hit by a car, shot, or another major trauma, they are normally transported to either Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn or Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Streeterville. Unless it’s a critical enough case to warrant a helicopter transport, it is not a quick trip from most south side neighborhoods to either hospital.

    The blue marker on this map is Roseland Hospital, where the victim was hit. The southwestern red marker is Christ Hospital, destination for the victim and most south side trauma victims – over 7 miles from the crash site. The northeastern red marker is Northwestern Hospital. Other level 1 trauma centers (Stroger and Sinai) are also marked in red. The aqua markers are other hospitals without level 1 trauma centers.

    To travel from Roseland Hospital to Christ Hospital, the ambulance must pass 5 railroad grade crossings, 4 of which see moderate to heavy freight traffic. Ambulances DO get stopped by freight trains, and sometimes by Metra or Amtrak trains. The trip from there to Northwestern would not involve any grade crossings, but would be subject to miles of Dan Ryan Expressway traffic. At most times of day, the trip to either hospital would be at least 20-30 minutes by ambulance.

    Since 1988, we’ve lost level 1 trauma centers at University of Chicago and Michael Reese. While the disparity of trauma centers for south side victims does not relate directly to raw accident statistics, it may create a disadvantage for survival and long-term health.

    1. Thanks for the additional info Anne. Although the dailies quoted someone from the fire department saying Collins was taken to Christ Hospital, it seemed strange to me as well that he would have been transported 7.6 miles when the crash happened next to the hospital where he worked. But when I double checked with the police and fire news affairs offices they told me Collins was actually treated at Roseland Hospital. The person from the fire department I spoke to today said the earlier mention of Christ Hospital must have been a mistake. Sorry, I probably should have included this in the above write-up.

      1. Thanks for the clarification. BTW, it is common practice on the south side to do ambulance transports of that distance for serious cases – unfortunately for the victims.

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