Two people die while trying to cross the street last week (updated)

Updated 12:53

2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 2
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

Inspired by Ted Rogers’s blog, Biking In LA, and with a desire to give respect to the people who’ve died while walking, cycling, or using transit, I’ll be attempting to track these traffic fatalities. This is the first post of 2012.

It happened Thursday, February 9, 2012, on 95th Street near Cottage Grove Avenue. Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune:

Bernard Donald, 58, and Loretta Press, 35, both died from injuries suffered when they were hit by the car, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Prosecutors said [Davon] Hall [38] was driving 80 to 90 mph while in a 30 mph zone, said Assistant State’s Attorney Aileen Bhandari. Hall tested positive for marijuana and had a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent, which is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, Bhandari said.

Hall was also cited for driving on a suspended license, failure to reduce speed, and for not exercising “due care” to avoid hitting a pedestrian.


The motorist emerged from a garage with his hands up and told officers: “I made a mistake; I fled the scene. They jumped out right in front of my car,” according to an arrest report.

Yes, that’s exactly what the victims did – they jumped in front of you while you were driving 80+ MPH. Bail was set at $400,000. It was a hit and run. Another one to keep Chicago’s status as a top hit and run city. I mentioned in an article the day before this crash that pedestrians hit at 30 MPH have an 80% chance of survival, but hit at 40 MPH have a 30% chance of survival. The chances of survival decrease as speed increases.

There’s a way to control speed without using speed cameras, without using traffic police, and without using governors on car engines: traffic speed can be controlled by street design.

I’ll try my best to stay updated on this story as it goes to trial (assuming it does go to trial). The driver will likely get off easy as the charges are very mild.

View larger Street View map – I can’t be certain this is where they crossed.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time.

14 thoughts on “Two people die while trying to cross the street last week (updated)”

  1. The location you showed in street view is about where I assumed the accident location to be, based on the news stories.  It’s a bad area for speeding, where I’ve encountered 40+ mph speeds plenty of times.

    1. I’d like to know exactly where it happened, but I hate calling the police news affairs desk. They always sound so annoyed when you call and then you have to call back and you might not talk to the same person again, so you have to re-explain and then get the answer that someone (hopefully) looked up for you. 

  2. These are sad statistics to track, but I appreciate that you’re taking the time to do it.

    You guys might have discussed this on the blog before, but this phrase drives me nuts: “when they were hit by the car.” This type of passive, almost apologist writing style seems to show up all the time in news stories about car crashes — it’s like there’s this army of sentient cars driving around hitting people of their own accord. If I had a magic wand, I would change every phrase like this to something more like, “when the driver hit them with his car.”

    I’m not trying to call out these particular staff writers because they’re basically just following convention, but I would like to see the Trib, and even the AP, address this in their style guides, along with calling crashes “crashes” instead of “accidents.”

    1. We have been tracking the media’s “insufficient” (bad) portrayal of crashes. I call it #robotcar (there’s a discussion on Twitter about this, where we share examples of “robot car writing”). Read those articles

      As for crashes and accidents, I’m right there with ya. Although Lawyer Jim Freeman, a friend and Grid Chicago sponsor, prefers to call them “collisions”. And now I forget why. 

  3. Thanks for writing this story. What frustrates me about stories like this is the lack of public outrage about the fact that a guy can drive stoned, drunk, and without license. Where is the call for tougher measures?

    1. Such as?  He already wasn’t supposed to be driving.  I’m sure imprisonment is practical in these situations.

      1. Better enforcement and harsher penalties? Obviously this guy thought the risk of getting caught was low enough. We need to raise enforcement and penalties to a level that folks like him will think twice to drive again.
        But I don’t see society as a whole demanding this.

        And yes, he may serve prison time. But only AFTER HE KILLED two people.

  4. If only speed cameras were being used.  Think of the lives that could have been saved.  I’m sure someone who is under the influence is really going to be deterred by cameras.
    Oh, and aren’t cameras supposed to “free up” officers to do the important things?  Perhaps if cops were making traffic stops,  it would get people off the street. 

  5. This was my uncle (Bernard Donald) and yes Mr. Hall will be prosecuted to the fullest he will not get off easily! ( Reckless Homicide)

  6. I left for work that morning and police tape/vehicles detoured the traffic.  A few days later and still today, there were teddy bears, balloons, etc. and a sign with the name Loretta Press attached to the fence (former House of Kicks) located past the intersection beyond the viaduct in the above photo.  Let us pray.

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