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Journalist, Activist Hannah Hayes Dies in Hit-and-Run

Journalist, Activist Hannah Hayes Dies in Hit-and-Run Hannah Hayes – a local activist and political journalist – has been identified as the victim of a fatal hit-and-run last week. ABC 7 News reports that the fatal crash happened when a silver 2012 Lexus blew a stop sign at Drexel Blvd and hit Hayes’ car. Police have released pictures of the suspects, but so far no one has been brought in.

We hope someone is brought in. We really do. Hayes was an inspiration to many of us. She fought to improve public education, even building a library for Reavis Elementary with the help of volunteers. (The school is naming the library after her.) She fought for the rights of immigrants and spent her life trying to make our city safer and stronger.

Per the Hyde Park Herald, her Memorial Service is scheduled for August 6, 2022 at Reavis Elementary School at 2:00pm, with a reception to follow.

How many hit-and-run accidents happened in Chicago in 2022?

We did a little digging into Chicago’s data portal. We wanted to see just how bad it is. So we set our dates for Jan 1, 2022 to July 19, 2022 and looked up just how many hit-and-runs there have been in Chicago this year.

18,722.

That’s how many hit-and-run crashes we’ve had in just over seven months. Of those incidents:

  • 4,328 led to “injury and/or tow due to crash.”
  • 130 involved someone “disregarding a stop sign.”
  • 185 involved someone “operating a vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, negligent, or aggressive manner.”

Is it good news that most of these collisions – more than 14,000 of them – were categorized as “no injury/ drive away”? Not really, and we’ll tell you why: 6,161 of these hit-and-runs involved up to $1500 in property damage, which should indicate that the crashes were relatively minor, no? Except more than 10% of those accidents (696) still fell under the parameters of “injury and/or tow.”

In other words, just because you can drive your car away from the scene doesn’t mean you’re not hurt.

It’s time for Chicago police to step up when it comes to hit-and-runs

NBC 5 Chicago reported in May that our city sees an average of 100 hit-and-runs a day – and law enforcement has been wildly unsuccessful in addressing the issue. From their report:

Of the roughly 37,000 hit-and-run crashes the city saw in 2021, Chicago police made arrests in just 95 cases, according to city data obtained and analyzed by NBC 5 Investigates. That’s an arrest rate of 0.3% – just three arrests out of every 1,000 crashes.

Compare that to Los Angeles, where the city’s most recent reported overall arrest rate was 8%.

Even if you isolate just the most serious of cases – the crashes that caused deaths and debilitating injuries – the Chicago Police Department’s own records show they made arrests in just 2.3% of those hit-and-runs last year.

For comparison, officers in the New York Police Department made an arrest in 25.8% of their most serious hit-and-run crashes in 2021 – a rate that’s more than 10 times that of Chicago police.

[emphasis added]

The hit-and-run crisis Chicago reaches new peaks every day, and it’s starting to feel like we’re yelling at the walls. Regular readers of our posts know that we have a thing about hit-and-runs. It’s not that our hearts don’t break over any fatal car accident, or that we don’t feel empathy for families in any crash scenario. It’s that hit-and-runs are not only deadly – they’re cowardly.

As personal injury attorneys, our role is to help people find closure after the worst comes to pass; hit-and-runs can make that impossible. And it appears, based on the NBC 5 Chicago investigation, that no one is coming to help us. All the oxygen in the room is taken up by demands to reduce homicides and assaults, and we get it: WTTW reports that “Chicago is on pace for more than 600 homicides in 2022,” and reducing homicide should be a priority.

But the number of people injured in hit-and-runs is literally seven times higher than the number of (estimated) homicides for this year. You meant to tell us there is NOTHING Mayor Lightfoot, the City of Chicago, or the Chicago Police can – or will – do to fix this scourge? No one has ANY ideas?

Because we have some ideas.

  1. Start begging for money. Get on your hands and knees and start begging for money for beat cops. Ask the State. Ask the feds. Ask the Governor’s sister. Ask the Chicago Bulls. Beg and plead for help. Sell off the armored vehicles our sheriffs’ departments purchased from the 1033 military surplus program and use the profits to get cops on streets – and keep them there. Community policing builds trust, and these communities deserve that trust. They’ve been abandoned. Fix the problem. We owe them.
  2. Install cameras. Enough with letting less-affluent areas of the city suffer because they don’t rake in tourist bucks. We have the network in place: expand it throughout the whole city. Make drivers aware that they’re under surveillance and that running from a crime scene won’t help them.
  3. Put in speed humps and curb extensions. They’ll force vehicles to slow down at intersections, and curb extensions reduce the amount of space pedestrians must cross. They make streets safer all around.
  4. Upgrade streetlights. Better lighting means improved visibility. Improved visibility not only makes it easier for drivers and pedestrians to see things in front of them, but it also reduces the chances that a person will take off. Use amber lights instead of white or blue lamps to reduce light pollution and the risk to wildlife.
  5. Upgrade our tech. You can data map problem areas. Identify the patterns and start putting in plans – one street at a time, if you have to – design to make those areas safer.

But for all that is good in this world, don’t just throw your hands up in the air in defeat. DO YOUR JOB, so that we can do ours.

Gainsberg Law, P.C. represents injury victims throughout Chicagoland. If you or your loved one suffered injury in a hit-and-run, we are here to help. Please call 312-600-9585 or fill out our contact form to schedule your free consultation.