Chicago’s increasingly common phenomenon of illegal drag racing and “sideshows,” drivers performing stunts on city streets, is more than just a nuisance – it’s a serious threat to the safety of bystanders. According to authorities, many people came to Chicago from out of town for a weekend of “street takeovers” in various parts of the city.
Police say it’s not yet clear whether there was a connection between these dangerous events and the killing of Shawman Meireis, 40. She was visiting our city when a speeding Corvette driver cut her life short early Sunday morning in the Clearing neighborhood.
But witnesses said the offender was “showing off” for another motorist in a Corvette, suggesting the tragedy may have been related to the meetups. Whether or not that turns out to be true, clearly this was an incredibly irresponsible and selfish act that should have serious consequences for the perpetrator, but so far he has merely received traffic tickets.
According to police, on Sunday, August 28, at about 1:35 a.m., Meireis was crossing Cicero Avenue (4800 W.) in a crosswalk at 65th Street in the Clearing neighborhood, near Midway Airport. This stretch of Cicero has six travel lanes, an Interstate-like layout that’s totally inappropriate for a dense urban area, making it easy for motorists to drive at deadly speeds.
Police said a 27-year-old man in a red Corvette was driving south at the same time as a 19-year-old woman in a blue Corvette, and both were traveling at a high rate of speed. The man changed lanes to overtake the female motorist and struck the northbound driver of a Hyundai, who was making a westbound left turn. The red corvette driver then struck Meireis in the crosswalk.
Meireis was transported to Christ Medical Center where she was later pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
The red Corvette driver was ticketed for having an obstructed front windshield and failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the roadway, police said. Major Accidents is investigating the case, and it’s possible other citations or charges may be issued.
According to a Sun-Times article by David Struett, Meireis was in town from Naples, Florida, and was going for a late-night meal with her boyfriend after attending the Sacred Rose Festival in Bridgeview. Her 41st birthday would have been the next day. Witnesses said the drivers had been weaving in and out of traffic and cutting each other off when they careened towards her. After driver of the red car struck Meireis, the damaged vehicle stopped near 65th Street, and the boyfriend angrily confronted his partner’s killer, grabbing him and slamming him against a light pole.
In a statement, the Meireis’ family said the victim “was a much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, and partner… [who] loved music, the outdoors and her many nieces and nephews. She was the ultimate aunt, and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.” She grew up in Maine and attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Boston University, and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and was recently working as a consultant focusing on pharmaceutical safety, research and management.
The red Corvette driver told police he was fleeing a carjacking attempt. But the Sun-Times reported that witnesses said the red Corvette driver was “showing off” for the other motorist. The two motorists were stopped at a red light at 63rd Street before the crash and began racing each other when the signal turned green. The female driver reportedly fled the scene after the collision. “Coward didn’t stay a second to make sure the other driver… was OK. Drove off instantly,” said a witness. “Very irresponsible of the racers taking an innocent person’s life.”
While police superintendent David Brown said on Monday morning that the department hasn’t yet been determined whether the killing was related to the weekends street racing events, he acknowledged that the police have “statements alluding to the speculation that it might have been drag racing.”
On July 20, the City Council passed an ordinance that allows anyone participating in illegal drag racing or sideshows on the public way to be fined between $5000 to $10,000.
Fatality Tracker: 2022 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)
Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data.
2022 Chicago pedestrian fatality cases (including one scooter-on-sidewalk case)
On August 28, 2022, Shawman Meireis was fatally struck by a Corvette driver racing another motorist in a Corvette at 65th Street and Cicero Avenue in the Clearing neighborhood.
On August 10, 2022, Taha Khan, 5, died after he was struck by a hit-and-run Jeep SUV driver at Devon and Cicero avenues in the Sauganash neighborhood, and then hit by a Volvo driver.
On August 5, 2022, Angela Short, 14, was standing at a bus stop when she was killed after a Mercedes driver ran a red at 79th Street and Racine Avenue in Auburn Gresham, striking a Jeep, which careened onto the sidewalk. Three other people were injured in the crash.
On August 2, 2022, Lawrence Ware, 52, died after he was crossing the street in the 4000 block of West 5th Avenue in West Garfield Park when a hit-and-run driver struck him, and another motorist ran over him.
On July 30, 2022, a driver struck and killed Octavio Bahena Urquiza, 38, on the 4500 block of West Diversey Avenue and fled the scene.
On July 4, 2022, a Jeep driver reportedly struck and killed a man on the 3200 block of South Pulaski Road in Little Village and fled the scene.
On June 16, 2022, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed a Ja’lon James, 11, as he crossed the street in the 3300 block of West 16th Street in North Lawndale.
On June 12, 2022, a distracted Nissan Altima sedan driver fatally struck Peter Paquette, 75, at Irving Park Road and Hoyne Avenue in North Center.
On June 2, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed 2-year-old Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas at Eastwood Avenue and Leavitt Street in Lincoln Square as the toddler rode a mini-scooter into the intersection.
On May 27, 2022, a Honda sedan driver fatally struck Wilberto Rivera, 76, as he crossed North Avenue at Albany Avenue. He died from his injuries two weeks later on June 11.
On May 27, 2022, a hit-and-run SUV driver fatally struck Martha Velazquez, 34, on the 2900 block of West Columbus Avenue in Ashburn.
On May 19, 2022, a motorcyclist fatally struck Timothy Kast, 46, as he crossed the 5300 block of West Irving Park Road in Portage Park.
On May 11, 2022, a BMW sedan driver struck and killed 82-year-old Concepcion Lopez, as she waited at a CTA bus stop on the 2100 block of West Peterson in West Ridge.
On May 10, 2022, a left-turning van driver failed to yield to failed to yield to Berta Arroyo Salgado, 73, as she crossed the street in a crosswalk at Chicago Avenue and Paulina Street in West Town, killing the senior.
On May 6, 2022, a Cadillac sedan driver ran a red light at Roosevelt Road and Damen Avenue on the Near West Side, struck another vehicle, and careened onto the sidewalk, killing a 33-year-old man.
On April 17, 2022, a left-turning sedan driver fatally struck Yehuala Melkama, 44, as she walked in a crosswalk at Hazel and Sunnyside avenues in Uptown.
On March 27, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed Larry J. Davis, 68, at 3350 S. Kedzie Ave. in Little Village.
On March 17, 2022, a left-turning driver struck and killed Miriam M. Grande, 70, at Grand and Austin avenues in the Belmont Central neighborhood and fled the scene.
On March 15, 2022, a car driver fatally struck Allen Lee Jr., 88, as he attempted to cross Western Avenue at 109th Street in Morgan Park.
On February 8, 2022, a Chicago police officer struck Javion Marquel Johnson, 20, with an SUV after Johnson had been shot multiple times, potentially contributing to his death, at 12111 S. Stewart Avenue in Rosehill.
On January 20, 2022, a hit-and-run driver fatally struck Richard Haljean, 57, as he crossed Touhy Avenue at Oriole Avenue in Edison Park.
On January 15, 2022 Angel Thomas, 35, was walking to her car on the 4300 block of West Jackson Boulevard in West Garfield Park when an SUV driver fatally struck her and fled.
On January 12, 2022, an SUV driver struck and killed Deborah Renee Jones, 67, in the 6800 block of South Stony Island in South Shore.
2022 Chicago bike fatality cases
On August 27, 2022, an SUV driver ran a stop sign and fatally struck Fengan Yan, 55, at 26th Street and Stewart Avenue in the Armour Square community.
On August 11, 2022, a van driver struck and killed Pablo Rodriguez, 55, near 99th Street and Avenue L in the East Side community and fled the scene.
On June 24, 2022, a cargo van driver fatally struck Joshua Avina-Luna, 15, near 62nd Street and Austin Avenue in the Clearing neighborhood
On June 9, 2022, a semi truck driver ran over and killed Elizabeth “Lily” Grace Shambrook, 3, riding in a child seat on the back of her mother’s bike at Leland and Winthrop avenues in Uptown. The mother was uninjured.
On May 4, 2022, a Nissan Versa sedan driver fatally struck Nick Parlingayan, 22, on his bike at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues in Irving Park.
On April 16, 2022, an allegedly intoxicated hit-and-run Volkswagen Jetta driver fatally struck Paresh Chhatrala, 42, near Madison and Peoria streets in the West Loop.
On February 28, 2022, a BMW sedan driver ran a red light at Balbo Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive in the Loop, fatally striking Gerardo Marciales, 41, on a Divvy bike.