Fatality Tracker: Two hit-and-run crashes and three deaths in one day


The intersection of LaSalle and Division Streets where Jesse Bradley was killed. Photo may not depict where the crash occurred. Photo by Monika Nevis. 

2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 4 (3 have been from hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

According to my tracking, the city will probably maintain its status as a place with a high frequency of hit-and-run crashes as 75% of all pedestrian fatalities in Chicago this year have been because of hit-and-run drivers.

On Saturday, March 24, 2012, there were two crashes and three deaths, but only one of the three who died was a pedestrian. First, in the early morning at LaSalle Street and Division Street:

A 32-year-old man died after being hit by an SUV driven by a 21-year-old woman…

The woman fled the scene but was caught a couple blocks away, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said. She was driving a Jeep Liberty southbound on LaSalle when she hit the man about 2:30 a.m., Greer said. [Jesse] Bradley was a third year law student at Northwestern University Law School, according to university spokesman Alan Cubbage. Chicago Tribune, 1

Assistant State’s Atty. Ericka Graunke said [Bianca] Garcia had a blood alcohol content of .168, more than double the .08 legal limit, following the early Saturday morning crash. Chicago Tribune, 2

She is charged with felony aggravated driving while under the influence resulting in death, misdemeanor reckless driving and misdemeanor driving under the influence. She is also cited with operating a vehicle without insurance, driving while unlicensed and driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Chicago Tribune, 3

Then in the evening in Brighton Park, chaos:

A horrific scene played out on the Southwest Side Saturday evening after a hit-and-run driver fled one accident [crash] only to plow into a second car, killing a toddler and a 6-year-old inside. In the wake of the 6:30 p.m. crash near 45th and Western, a witness described watching a distraught woman run from victim to victim, trying to help a 19-month-old child still strapped into a car seat lying on the street, the 6-year-old in the back seat of her demolished car and a gasping, bleeding man slumped over the wheel.

The driver of the SUV was arrested and taken to an area hospital for treatment. Chicago Sun-Times

As he [Joey Chavez] drove his 2003 Mercury Mountaineer, he rear-ended a 1997 Dodge Neon on the 4500 block of South Western Avenue that resulted in the death of 10-month-old Julissa Ochoa, 10 months, and her brother Eric, 5, officials said. Chicago Tribune

That’s three hit-and-run deaths in a single day; the first hit-and-run this year was in February on 95th Street near Cottage Grove Avenue. The baby and child are not included in fatality tracker stats at this time because they were in a car, but I think I may change my evolving fatality tracker policy to include hit-and-run deaths of car drivers and passengers.

This is as good a time as any to talk about the hit-and-run rate in Chicago, Since last reporting on hit-and-run rates in December 2011, I’ve calculated some new numbers from additional data and filtered out bike and pedestrian crashes. I will be posting about this later in the week.

See previous articles in the fatality tracker series. Grid Shots is postponed this weekend. 

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time. Post updated March 26, at 16:19, to add information about the LaSalle/Division crash. Updated March 27 at 09:16 to add charges filed against Bianca Garcia. Updated March 29 at 01:10 to add updated information about the children who died in the 4500 S Western crash.

10 thoughts on “Fatality Tracker: Two hit-and-run crashes and three deaths in one day”

      1. Thank you.  I just wanted to make sure the photographer was getting credit, since she was surprised to see it in this article.  Great job reporting on this dangerous intersection and dangerous drivers.

  1. Wow.  horrific.  last weekend’s shootings (
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/10-dead-chicago-shootings-_n_1362604.html) and this weekends hit and runs paint a dangerous image.  Some organizations that are trying to reduce violent crime, specifically Ceasefire, explicitly conceive of violent crime as a public health issue spread or recede as would a communicable disease.  They use terms like exposure and risk factors.  Is this an appropriate framework for traffic safety?  Don’t hit and run crashes qualify as violent crime?  

    1. It’s a public health issue in the sense that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for youth in America, and a top cause for all ages. I don’t know if looking at it the way researchers look at how diseases spread is useful; I’m not familiar with that knowledge. Exposure and risk factors are part of traffic crash analysis, but I believe exposure is one of the tougher attributes to collect and calculate. Our data collection and management standards need to be improved
      I think they could quality as violent crime when there is an injury or death. What are the most common outcomes of hit-and-run crashes? I haven’t looked into that yet.
      Tomorrow or Thursday I will publish my article on bike counts. That’s an area of research that has no permanence in Chicago (although things are looking up).

  2. In recent weeks, I’ve had anxious out-of-state relatives calling me, asking if I’m okay and curious about what’s causing the apparent meltdown of the city.  They’re hearing more about the gun violence, but the traffic violence is no less alarming.  My gut feeling is that the economy and lack of jobs is feeding this epidemic to some degree, but it’s not an adequate excuse or explanation, as these problems are much more widespread than the Chicago area.

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