A Baby’s Life Is on the Line After Last Night’s Hit-and-Run in River North

A Baby’s Life Is on the Line After Last Night’s Hit-and-Run in River NorthOn Wednesday night, a Chevy sedan hit a Toyota Prius while traveling down Ontario. It careened off the Prius and hit four pedestrians standing on the corner of Ontario and Wabash. All four pedestrians, and the driver and passenger in the Prius, were injured, and the three people in the Chevy – a driver and two passengers – took off into the night.

One of those injured pedestrians was 7 months pregnant at the time. Her son was delivered early and is now fighting for his life – as is his mother, who may need spinal surgery as a result.

Once again, our hearts are breaking. Once again, we are begging that anyone who knows anything will come forward. Once again, we are angry and distraught and disgusted that another family may have been irreparably harmed because of the reckless actions of other people.

What about the baby?

Both mother and child were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which is recognized as one of the top 10 hospitals in the country, per U.S. News & World Report. That’s good news, because both of them are in for a fight.

Seven months is 28 weeks, which the Mayo Clinic categorizes as “very preterm.” This little boy is going to face an uphill battle, because preemie babies haven’t finished developing in the womb. That means potential breathing problems, heart defects, brain damage, GI issues – issues that can compound into a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis if he needs to be formula fed because his mother is too injured to feed him. He may develop jaundice, which can turn into kernicterus. There’s a chance he’ll have developmental problems that will follow him his entire life. He is also at a greater risk of SIDS or developing cerebral palsy.

This little boy entered a world that is hard enough without all of these potential complications, and he had to enter it traumatically and fighting for his life while his mother fights for hers.

Why do people leave the scene after hit-and-run car accidents?

Over the years, we’ve talked quite a bit about why hit-and-runs keep occurring in Chicago: the lack of community policing, the broken lights, the failure to follow traffic rules. But we haven’t talked much about why people run away in the first place. And that’s strange, because it’s something we DO talk about when we represent people in court – why we think (and sometimes, based on the evidence we get through discovery and depositions) why we know Person A behaved in a way that harmed our client, Person B.

So let’s unpack it a bit, because truth be told, this particular accident is really weighing on us.

In general, maybe hit-and-run drivers run because:

  • They’re drunk or high
  • They’re distracted by their phones or their passengers or the radio, etc.
  • They’re driving on a suspended license or without insurance
  • They borrowed (or “borrowed”) the vehicle
  • They were engaged in some other illegal behavior
  • They’re teenagers and they were breaking curfew

We mostly think it’s fear. If you cause an accident, you’re going to get a ticket. That’s pretty clear, right? And if you cause an accident that hurts someone, the ticket is bigger, and there may be some jail time involved. If someone dies, now you’re really in trouble. Plus, when you cause an accident and you hurt someone, the injured person can file a civil lawsuit against you, too. So we understand that instinct to flee – if they can’t catch you, they can’t charge you, right?

And then there are all the non-criminal penalties. Your mug shot out for the world to see. A criminal record that keeps you from getting housing or educational opportunities. The job you’re likely to lose. The friends and even family who will cast you out of social circles. It’s a lot to run through your mind while you’re in a blind panic. So you play the odds and you run.

Doing the right thing is hard. Cowardice is easy.

Except in this case, the driver and his or her passengers fled on foot at around 7:45pm, a time when people are still out and about. There were witnesses to what happened – a lot of them. And at the risk of sounding macabre, all six victims (technically seven) survived the accident. So unless the hit-and-run driver and their passengers stole that car, there’s a good chance the cops are going to actually catch them. And that means they will likely be charged not only with causing a wreck and hurting six people, but ALSO with fleeing the scene – and that means extra charges, extra fines, and more jail time. The passengers in the hit-and-run will likely be charged, too, though they may have avoided all liability and criminal penalties if they had stayed at the scene.

Oh, the irony.

All of us at Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers? We love this city. We love the people. We love our community. We wouldn’t abandon Chicago and our clients for anything, but days like this – cases like this – can be hard on a person’s soul. Because when police and reporters and politicians talk about “senseless violence,” they means guns and assault. They’re not thinking of the lives that are destroyed by hit-and-runs and other acts of vehicular violence. Maybe if they did, they’d give our amazing, extraordinary city the resources she needs to protect the people who love her, too.

So until that day comes, know that we are here. We will be your protectors and your advocates. We will NEVER stop fighting for better laws and better options for you. We will NEVER stop fighting to keep you safe.

Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers is based in Chicago and serves the people of Cook County and the surrounding areas. Call or contact us when you need us. We will always be here.