Update on cab crash that killed Eric Kerestes


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.

Fatality tracker: speeding cab flips, kills young man on his way to work


Workers repair a stoplight on the traffic island that was damaged in the crash.

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 11 (6 have been hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 4 (1 is a hit-and-run crash)
Transit: 6

Once again a taxi has taken the life of an innocent bystander, but it may be too soon to say whether the driver is to blame. According to witnesses, shortly after 6 am Tuesday morning John Kesse, 64, was driving his cab with one passenger southeast on Milwaukee Avenue in River West, traveling far beyond the speed limit.

By the time Kesse reached the complex intersection of Milwaukee, Chicago Avenue, May Street and Ogden Avenue, a seven-way junction, he had lost control of the vehicle, which veered east across Milwaukee. The taxi struck a light pole on the triangular traffic island in the middle of the intersection, which houses an entrance to the Blue Line’s Chicago stop, and flipped several times, according to witnesses.

The vehicle careened into the southeast corner of the intersection, slamming into a large sign for the CVS Pharmacy and a nearby advertising bench, and striking Eric Kerestes. A thirty-year-old engineer and MBA student, Kerestes lived just a few blocks away on the 600 block of North Racine.

Continue reading Fatality tracker: speeding cab flips, kills young man on his way to work