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CDOT trucker injured SAFE Ambassador on bike, but she was home the next day – Streetsblog Chicago

CDOT trucker injured SAFE Ambassador on bike, but she was home the next day – Streetsblog Chicago 2020-10-01Leave a comment

electrical bike CDOT trucker injured SAFE Ambassador on bike, however she was dwelling the following day – Streetsblog Chicago

Documents and online evidence strongly indicated that the 31-year-old lady who was struck and injured on her bike in June in Avondale, by the motive force of a truck owned by the Chicago Division of Transportation labored for CDOT as a SAFE (Streets Are For Everybody) Ambassador. Whereas division officers didn’t affirm that or present an replace on the sufferer’s situation, metropolis emails just lately obtained by Streetsblog present that the sufferer was, in truth, SAFE Ambassador Whitney R. Warner.

The excellent news is that, whereas the Chicago Police Division initially acknowledged that the sufferer was hospitalized in crucial situation, and later upgraded to serious-but-stable, the emails present that Warner was really despatched dwelling from the hospital the day after the crash. Presumably her accidents weren’t really as critical because the CPD first reported, and hopefully she is essentially and and even fully recovered by now.

On Tuesday, June 23, Warner was biking northwest on Milwaukee Avenue after which turned proper, eastbound, on Belmont Avenue. Truck driver Eric O. Carrasquillo, 48, who was additionally heading northwest on Milwaukee, turned east on Belmont similtaneously the bicycle owner.

Carrasquillo ran over Warner, trapping her beneath the car and dragging her, solely coming to a cease after witnesses flagged him down. The truck was outfitted with aspect guards, security gear which will have prevented the bicycle owner from being crushed underneath the wheels. A witness acknowledged that she was aware after the crash and gave a “thumbs-up” as she was being taken away in a stretcher.

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Nonetheless from safety footage exhibiting the CDOT trucker dragging Warner, who’s blurred within the picture.

Crash report data, obtained by Streetsblog by way of a Freedom of Info Act request, listed Warner and Carrasquillo because the concerned events.

A LinkedIn profile for Whitney Warner states that she started working as a SAFE Ambassador final June. She labored as an intern for CDOT’s Imaginative and prescient Zero program from final October to final Could. Previous to that, Warner labored as a CDOT Bicycle Ambassador from August by way of September of 2019.

CDOT emails Streetsblog obtained by way of one other FOIA request present that on July 1, division spokesman Mike Claffey emailed 11 different metropolis officers, together with Legislation Division personnel and Hali Levandoski, then-deputy press secretary to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “I needed to let you realize Streetsblog has obtained the ID of the bike rider on this case,” Claffey wrote. “Greenfield was asking for affirmation… I’ve mentioned with Hali, and she or he was considering we must always not touch upon her standing. Is there a draw back in your view?” Claffey shared the next draft of a reply to Streetsblog’s inquiry about Warner, prompt by Levandoski:

The security of everybody on Chicago’s streets is CDOT’s high precedence. The division is at the moment conducting a sturdy evaluation of this occasion to higher perceive what occurred and stop future incidents shifting ahead.

“It will be preferable to not touch upon something aside from the query about whether or not the bike rider labored as a [SAFE] Ambassador, if even that,” responded Legislation Division lawyer Mary Ruether to Claffey’s e mail. “The draft assertion may generate extra questions like ‘What’s the strong evaluation and the way may this have been prevented?’ and/or ‘Was there one thing unsafe in regards to the avenue?’”

“If Legislation approves, we are able to affirm [Warner was the victim and worked as a SAFE Ambassador] and depart it at that,” Levandoski wrote.

However later that day Legislation Division spokesperson Kathy Fieweger wrote Claffey to say that she had talked to Ruether. What precisely it was Fieweger mentioned with Ruether was redacted from the e-mail CDOT offered as a part of its FOIA response.

However apparently Claffey was advised he couldn’t even affirm Warner’s identification, as a result of once I adopted up with him every week later, he responded, “I’ll test and see if we have now something to say but,” however by no means really offered a press release.

The trove of emails offered by CDOT additionally features a message from division commissioner Gia Biagi to Claffey despatched the day of the crash. “I’d prefer to craft a press release to ship to the 5 information shops that reported on the crash at Milwaukee and Belmont that does in truth categorical some acknowledgment and sympathy. Please work with Seth [Solomonow] on placing one thing collectively on this tonight.”

Solomonow beforehand labored as a press secretary for Jeanette Sadik-Khan when she was NYC transportation chief, though it’s not clear in what capability he was working with CDOT this summer season, and he declined to inform me once I contacted him right this moment. Writing from a non-city e mail tackle on the day of the collision, Solomonow advised Claffey he may draft a press release “pending Gia’s go to to the hospital” requested Claffey for information on the SAFE Ambassadors program.

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The day after the crash, Solomonow wrote Claffey, “Any comply with up right this moment or replace on Whitney’s situation? Any inquiries?”

“She was discharged right this moment,” Claffey responded.

“That’s nice information!” Solomonow exclaimed. “Yesterday she was reportedly crucial, now she’s dwelling. Very glad to listen to that. Does Gia know and are you aware if she made contact with Whitney?”

“Sure, I feel crucial was not essentially a medical time period — however press shorthand for fairly critical and strapped to a stretcher!” Claffey wrote. Once more, it was the police division, not the press, that originally acknowledged that Warner’s situation was crucial. “[Deputy CDOT commissioner Sean Wiedel, who oversees the SAFE Ambassadors program] mentioned Gia was knowledgeable. However he was not conscious if they’d spoken but. Large reduction that [she] was discharged… [Biagi] requested me to take a seat in your assertion for now and never ahead to the Mayors Press Workplace simply but.”

Apparently CDOT by no means wound up issuing the assertion Solomonow drafted. However the vital factor is that the alternate signifies that Warner most likely didn’t undergo any life-changing accidents. She didn’t reply to a message despatched to her Twitter account right this moment.

However clearly it’s a horrible irony {that a} trucker, working for the division tasked with creating safer circumstances for folks on bikes, didn’t train due care earlier than making a flip, injuring a bicycle owner. It seem that Carrasquillo wasn’t even ticketed for his actions — contacted right this moment, the police division had no replace on the case. The truth that the sufferer was an individual employed by that very same division to advertise bike security simply makes the irony that rather more vicious.

“Whitney, like different SAFE Ambassadors, has been performing essential work, making our streets safer for everybody, notably for folks strolling and biking,” famous Lively Transportation Alliance spokesman Ted Villaire. “Whitney and the numerous others who’re hit by drivers whereas strolling and biking are a reminder of how far our area nonetheless has to go earlier than folks of all ages and skills are in a position to take pleasure in the advantages of protected streets. We’ve got lengthy had the data essential to create streets which might be actually protected, however tragedies proceed to occur as a result of our elected leaders and public officers haven’t made the wanted coverage adjustments and infrastructure enhancements.”

The SAFE in SAFE Ambassadors is an acronym for “Streets Are For Everybody.” However till town of Chicago makes these mandatory coverage adjustments and infrastructure upgrades, that slogan will proceed to ring hole.

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