Death of WTTW’s Elizabeth Brackett ruled an accident, spinal injuries the cause

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Elizabeth Brackett on “Chicago Tonight” in 2012. Screen image.

The death of veteran Chicago television journalist Elizabeth Brackett after a bicycle crash last week has been ruled accidental.

An autopsy Tuesday found Brackett, 76, died of cervical spine injuries in the fall from her bicycle, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Brackett died Sunday at Stroger Hospital, four days after the June 13 crash along the lakefront near 39th Street.

No witnesses to the crash have been identified, but GPS data from an activity tracker Brackett was wearing showed she ended up 10 feet from the path with a broken vertebra and damaged helmet, according to WTTW, where Brackett had worked most recently as a correspondent for “Chicago Tonight.”

The tracker showed Brackett’s heart stopped, leaving her without oxygen for as long as nine minutes, WTTW reported. Her daughter Ilsa Wallich told the station her mother, a world-champion triathlete, routinely biked between 30 and 40 mph.

Brackett worked at four TV stations over five award-winning decades on Chicago airwaves, earning renown for her cut-to-the-chase on-air demeanor.

In addition to her daughter, Brackett is survived by her husband Peter Martinez, son Jon Brackett; stepchildren Lisa Nuzzo, Stephanie Martinez, Jonathan Martinez and Matthew Martinez; sisters Ellen Rieger and Jill Swisher; and 10 grandchildren.

A funeral is planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Kenilworth Union Church in Kenilworth.

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