Fatality Tracker: Semi-trailer truck driver kills bicyclist in Fuller Park, flees


American roadway design requires people riding bicycles and people driving trucks to “share the road”. Photo of a sign in California that says “bikes in lane” by Richard Masoner. Notice that the depicted bike is “in front” of the car.

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 7 (6 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1, this one, is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

According to the Chicago Tribune, a robotic semi-trailer truck struck and killed Evelyn Dean yesterday, while she was bicycling, as it was entering a Norfolk Southern (NS) railroad yard in the block of 300 W 47th Street in Fuller Park.

The semi was entering the Norfolk Southern facility in the 300 block of West 47th Street around 1:40 p.m. Monday when it struck the female bicyclist and immediately fled the scene, Chicago police said, citing early reports.

The unidentified woman, believed to be in her 40s, was dead the scene, authorities said.

The Tribune story (authored by “staff”) used robot car language, which perpetuates a dangerous pattern in crash reporting by removing the real actors of the story, by writing “[it] immediately fled the scene”. A person caused the truck to flee the scene.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, police are seeking the driver and calling this a hit-and-run crash. The Google Street View for this location is below. The entrance to the intermodal yard is between multiple viaducts, which likely affects visibility of people cycling on this street. WGN TV has a news segment.

Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein tweeted yesterday a link to CBS Chicago’s article on the story, adding, “Very sad, why we need protected lanes”. The City hasn’t proposed protected bike lanes on this stretch of road.

View 300 W 47th block in larger map

* 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.

Updated 10:01 to add unrelated photo and change what constitutes robot car language in the quoted passage. Updated 19:50 to add the woman’s name and a link to a WGN TV news story. 

18 thoughts on “Fatality Tracker: Semi-trailer truck driver kills bicyclist in Fuller Park, flees”

  1. Agreed, very, very sad.

    Curious though, what’s your preferred language in this case? “Person hits woman with truck?”

    I understand your point, but I also get why reporters and editors – with a limited amount of space and the need to convey the fact that the truck, not the person, hit the cyclist – use this language.

    1. They could have written, “…when it struck the female bicyclist; the driver immediately fled the scene in the truck”.
      I’ve modified what I believe is the robot car language in this passage.

      1. Or “A female bicyclist was struck and killed by a man/woman driving a semi-trailer truck in the Fuller Park neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said.”

        Still tragic, although flexible pylons would not have stopped a semi truck. A protected lane would have made it more obvious to look for cyclists, however.

        1. Since they don’t know who hit the woman (it was a hit and run), your language doesn’t work (though you could say “a person”).

          I was responding more to the headline, where space is important. Now that Steven’s updated the focus (to the fleeing), I agree with his suggestion.

          1. I think what Clark Wellington was saying in his first comment was how does the headline get crafted so that the driver AND the truck are known to have caused the fatality. In my own article title, and your suggested replacement headline, it seems that a person who drives a truck with their own hands killed a cyclist (without the aid of a truck). It’s weird.

      1. A question has arisen: Does the semi-trailer truck driver know they hit the cyclist? The truck “fleeing” the scene could actually be a misinterpretation of the driver not knowing they hit the cyclist and continuing on their way.

        1. Admittedly, I have never been in a truck like this, but I cannot imagine that someone could hit a cyclist without knowing it.

        2. This incident makes me sad and angry and frustrated. I have so many questions.

          The Trib says the truck was entering the facility, presumably to pick up or deliver a trailer. If the driver didn’t know s/he’d hit a cyclist, I’d expect s/he would’ve continued into the facility rather than fleeing immediately.

          Doesn’t Norfolk Southern have a list of trucks expected? Can’t they figure out which truck didn’t show up?

          Why does the Trib keep telling us the cyclist was a woman?
          “woman on bicycle” (headline)
          “woman on a bike” (photo caption)
          “female bicyclist” (first paragraph)
          “female bicyclist” (second paragraph)
          “unidentified woman” (third paragraph)
          Would it change things if a male cyclist had been hit and killed?

          Steven, I was riding in a van (shame on me) last night and saw the LED signs above the expressway say how many traffic deaths have occurred this year. The number is in the 300s. Is this for Chicago, Illinois or the U.S.?

          1. NS probably has manifests of all the deliveries to be made.

            That number tells of traffic deaths in the whole state. There’s no shame in riding in a van. It’d be a shame if the van was empty.

  2. the city’s viaducts all suck, some more than others. broken glass, poor visibility, potholes aside, these dim-lit caves need improvement. like now.

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