A late-night hit-and-run crash on the 11100-block of South Cottage Grove Avenue has left a community in despair. Adelbert Wilson and “Apostle” Dr. Yvonne Lee-Wilson were killed after being hit by another vehicle on Monday night. Lee-Wilson led the Body of Christ Deliverance Ministries.
The force of the impact was enough to roll the Wilsons’ SUV over before it crashed into a bus shelter on the side of the street, ABC 7 News reports. The bus shelter was completely destroyed. Police found another wrecked car at the scene, but they do not know if it belonged to the hit-and-run driver.
This story hurts. Not only are two pillars of the community gone, but it comes so soon after what should have been good, if bittersweet, news: on Monday, the Lake County Sheriff's Office arrested and charged a woman for a deadly hit-and-run accident she caused last year. Amanda Cisneros-Elacio was charged with failing to report an accident causing death after she crashed into Wojciech Glowik’s car. She fled, and he died two days later.
There was nothing “good” about the tragedy that befell Glowik, but the fact that the Sheriff’s Office actually found the hit-and-run driver gave us hope; after all, so few hit-and-run victims or their families ever really get justice. After a year of waiting, Glowik’s family finally had an answer.
Chicago’s hit-and-run problem is out of control
We feel like a broken record: every couple of weeks, another deadly hit-and-run rocks our community. An NBC 5 Chicago investigation last year reviewed the number of car accidents in Chicago between Nov 1, 2017 and October 31, 2021. They looked at 439,688 crashes in that time frame.
The number of hit-and-runs? 130,536. And the numbers got higher over the last year:
The past 12 months* have seen 36,305 hit-and-run crashes, an average of nearly 100 each day and an 18.3% increase over the 30,695 that occurred the year before, according to the city’s data. A total of 32,135 hit-and-runs occurred in the previous 12 months, with 31,401 recorded in the year before that.
This past June marked the highest number of hit-and-run crashes of any month in the past four years, with 3,565 crashes in June alone where the driver fled the scene.
*Note: this report was made in November 2021. The 12 months they’re referring to were between November 1, 2020, and October 31, 2021.
To recap: about 30% of all total car accidents in Chicago in the last four years were hit-and-runs. It is also worth noting, we think, that 2020 saw a 45% increase in car accidents in 2020, and a five-year high for fatal accidents.
Why are there so many hit-and-runs in Chicago?
We don’t know, but we have some theories.
- The pandemic. We know, we know – a lot of things get blamed on the pandemic. But the rise in fatal car accidents isn’t unique to Chicago or its suburbs; it happened across the entire country. More and more people were speeding and acting the fool all over the state and the nation. Couple reckless behavior with decreased police presence (for a lot of reasons, including law enforcement officers getting sick with Covid) made it easier for people to break the law and get away with it.
- The jurisdiction. When a hit-and-run happens, there are two different agencies that may respond: a local Sheriffs’ Office, or Chicago PD. It depends on where it happens and who gets there first. And in some cases, an S.O. may be better equipped to investigate what happened, because their resources aren’t stretched as thin. As such, people who commit these heinous acts know they are less likely to be caught in certain areas than they are in others.
- Unjust surveillance. Chicago has more than 30,000 cameras installed throughout its streets. It is literally the most surveilled city in the country. You would think that hit-and-runs would be easy to catch, right? Except it’s not evenly surveilled, which leads wide swaths of the city without the tool that could help CPD catch hit-and-run drivers Per the Chicago Tribune, “In communities such as Englewood, North Lawndale and West Garfield Park…. such a vast network of cameras do not exist…. What residents on the South and West sides of the city have plenty of, though, are red-light cameras and those flashing blue lights hanging from utility poles, signifying that it is a high-crime area. Those don’t do anything to stop criminal activity.”
This is beyond frustrating. We can speculate all we want, but if we truly knew why the number of hit-and-runs were increasing, maybe we could curb the number of these awful crashes. The total number of hit-and-runs for 2021, per another report by NBC 5, was 37,226 – more than 100 a day, on average. More than 4,800 people were hurt, and 36 died.
You know how many arrests there were? 306.
So, yes – we’re beyond frustrated. We’re angry. We’re righteously indignant. But mostly, we’re heartbroken. Our city is in crisis, yet there seems to be no end in sight. For now, we will continue to help people seek some relief through their own insurance when the hit-and-run driver cannot be found, and purse compensation through the drivers’ insurance when they are. And we can continue to be a voice for the people of Chicago, advocating for their best interests and fighting to get the resources we need to put an end to this underreported epidemic of crashes.
If you or a family member was injured in a hit-and-run accident, Gainsberg Law P.C. is here to help. Our Chicago car accident attorneys will always fight for justice for you. Please call 312-600-9585 or fill out a contact form to schedule an initial consultation today.
Neal S. Gainsberg has spent the last 20 years fighting to protect the rights of the injured in Chicago and throughout Illinois. From consumer rights and bankruptcy to catastrophic injuries and wrongful death, Mr. Gainsberg stands up to large corporations, insurance companies, creditors and hospital administrators to ensure that his clients’ futures are safe and secure. Learn More