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Chicago bicyclist critically injured - Ernesto Vargas

Updated: Mar 4



Update 3/1/2024: Ernesto has been released from the hospital and his family has started a gofundme to help cover some of his medical costs. He has a long road to recovery.






 

It's been an emotional weekend as we've been responding to yet another bicyclist hit on Long. While we have a lot of questions that need to be answered, we want to share the facts. Bear with us as we seek help to find justice for this young person and long term solutions to stop these crashes from happening.

 

 

 On Friday, February 23rd around 6:50 pm, Ernesto Vargas - 18 yr old bicyclist was hit and critically injured by a driver of a black Jeep Wrangler and the police never responded to the scene. This crash happened on Long at Grace - just blocks from where Josh Anleu was killed this fall.

 

The Jeep was captured on multiple video cameras at multiple locations. The videos show the driver and passenger (passenger was wearing hospital scrubs indicating they are possibly a healthcare worker) initially stayed on the scene, however left after the bicyclist was transported from the scene by ambulance. Police never arrived at the scene. We are now asking the public to share any information they have on the identity of the driver and passenger.

 

The bicyclist and driver were both traveling south on Long. Based on the multiple videos, the bicyclist may have been chased by the driver of the Jeep. The videos show the driver of the Jeep was speeding and entered into the northbound lane to potentially pass the bicyclist. The bicyclist turned left onto Grace and was hit by the driver of the Jeep. 

If you have any information about this crash, please contact detective Michael Scanlon: Major Accident Investigation Unit at 312-745-4521

 

Errors in the police report

We have reviewed the police report, several videos, including one very clear recording of the entire intersection and the crash itself. We were also present as the police reviewed recordings of the crash. 911 calls and information from CFD's first responders are not yet available.

 

The police crash scene diagram is inaccurate 

  • Based on the recordings, at the time of the crash, the Jeep was traveling south in the northbound lane on Long - essentially driving head on into oncoming traffic at excessive speed while apparently attempting to overtake the bicyclist traveling in the same direction in the southbound lane.  

  • The crash diagram lists the wrong street names entirely and states they were traveling in the opposite direction. 

  • The crash occurs when the cyclist attempts to turn left onto Grace and the driver races through the intersection, ignoring the stop sign. 

  • After the collision, the Jeep and cyclist come to a stop near a USPS mail truck stopped at the mailbox at the southeast corner of Long and Grace. The diagram does not reflect that or anything that even resembles the actual crash.



The police didn’t respond

  • The report provides no information about why police did not respond to the crash. 

  • More than 15 minutes passes from the time of the dispatch to the time the ambulance leaves the crash scene. 

  • The crash occurred at 5:51 pm, the ambulance arrived around 5:57 pm and left at 6:10 pm. 

  • The Jeep driver and passenger leave several minutes after the ambulance leaves.

  • "They never came," one neighbor said about CPD.

 

The wrong vehicle is listed

  • The vehicle involved appears to be a black Jeep Wrangler, a two-door vehicle, and not a Jeep Grand Cherokee, as indicated in the report.



Resolutions needed

 

  • This police report is the sloppiest report I have encountered.  

  • It appears police did not begin surveying the neighborhood to locate video recordings until almost 24 hours after the crash.

  • At a minimum, the police report needs to be amended based on information provided in the videos.

  • An explanation is needed as to why police failed to arrive at the scene. The driver responsible for a serious crash remained on site for more than 20 minutes. The ambulance came and went and they still waited. If a young man facing life threatening injuries caused by a reckless driver doesn't merit a quick police response what does? The community - and this young man's parents - deserve to know why.

  • The bicycling community deserves an explanation by the Chicago Police Department that outlines what will be done to prevent this from happening again.

  • Two bicyclists have now been hit on Long within blocks from one another.  One was killed and the other is currently in the Intensive Care Unit. The community deserves answers as to why there hasn’t been any traffic calming measures in this area.  This is a bike route that is an artery to a park and a school.  The neighbors in the area continue to cite speeding and running stop signs. 

  • We need an explanation by CPD why traffic laws aren’t being enforced at this location.

  • We need an explanation from city leaders why physical traffic calming infrastructure has not been installed.





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