Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Walter Williams, Jr., Chicago Bicyclist, 72, Killed in Hit-and-Run Crash In Lawndale

Late Monday night, a Chicago bicyclist tragically lost his life as a result of the injuries sustained when he was struck while bicycling on Chicago’s West Side. News outlets are reporting that 72-year-old Walter Williams, Jr. was hit in the early morning by a white sedan in the 1500 block of South Central Park Avenue in Lawndale. After being transported to a nearby hospital, he was tragically pronounced dead. Police later stopped a vehicle that matched the description of the car that fatally struck the cyclist and had damage to the front of the car. At this time there is no information regarding charges related to the accident.

Illinois Law Requires Drivers Involved in Bicycle Crashes to Remain at the Scene

Illinois law provides that a motorist has a responsibility under the law to stay on the scene of a crash. On the night of July 13, 2020, the man was hit, and the driver was not present at the scene afterward. The suspected driver was later found and brought into police custody.

In addition to the facts surrounding the crash itself, drivers in Illinois who are involved in a crash are also legally required to:

1. Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information.

2. If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist.

Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code lays the groundwork for the motorist:

“The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give the driver’s name, address, registration number and owner of the vehicle the driver is operating and shall upon request and if available exhibit such driver’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to the physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.”

In 2011, Illinois amended the law regarding hit-and-runs to allow the motorist to avoid prosecution by notifying authorities within a half-hour of the accident or within a half-hour of being discharged from the hospital for an injury or incapacitation suffered in the crash.

Section 11-401(b) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides as follows:

“Any person who has failed to stop or to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) shall, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after such motor vehicle accident or, if hospitalized and incapacitated from reporting at any time during such period, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after being discharged from the hospital, report the place of the accident, the date, the approximate time, the driver’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle driven, and the names of all other occupants of such vehicle, at a police station or sheriff’s office near the place where such accident occurred. No report made as required under this paragraph shall be used, directly or indirectly, as a basis for the prosecution of any violation of (stay at the scene requirements).”

Under Illinois law, there is no reason why someone should flee the scene of an accident. The law provides reasonable requirements and ample time for drivers who have been involved in a crash to stay. It also allows for a window of time to report the crash even if the driver is injured and find themselves in a hospital or receiving medical care.

The Tragic Loss of a Life

An untimely death under such circumstances is truly tragic. Beyond the law and the accident was a person who lost their life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Walter Williams, Jr. We wish them peace in their healing from this unfathomable loss.