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Driver cited for negligent driving, improper turn in crash that killed bicyclist in Irving Park

The driver stopped after the crash and told investigators he was turning on a green light when he heard screaming, police said.

Cyclist hold a vigil in remembrance of the woman who was struck and killed by a truck Nov. 6, 2019 in Irving Park.
Cyclist hold a vigil in remembrance of the woman who was struck and killed by a truck Nov. 6, 2019 in Irving Park.
Courtesy of Fox 32 News

A driver was issued traffic citations after his truck struck and killed a woman riding a bicycle Wednesday in Irving Park.

The woman, who is the third bicyclist to be killed in Chicago this year, was identified Thursday morning as 37-year-old Carla Aiello of the Union Ridge neighborhood, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

She was a counselor at Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart, a Catholic all-girls high school in Wicker Park, according to the school’s marketing director, Daeshawna Skinner.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our counselor, Carla Aiello,” the school said in a statement Thursday. “We extend our thoughts and deepest sympathies to her family and loved ones.”

The crash happened about 7 a.m. as Aiello rode south in the 3800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue while a truck driving next to her made a right turn at Kilbourn Avenue, Chicago police and the medical examiner’s office said.

Aiello’s bike became caught under the truck’s wheel, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy found Aiello died of multiple injuries from a vehicle striking bicyclist, the medical examiner’s office said Thursday afternoon. Her death was ruled accidental.

The driver, a 41-year-old man, stopped after the crash and told investigators he was turning on a green light when he heard screaming, according to police, who initially said he was 21 years old. The man told officers Aiello was in his blind spot.

The unnamed driver was issued citations for negligent driving and making an improper right turn, a police spokesperson said Thursday morning.

City law requires drivers to look for cyclists and pedestrians before making turns.

As news of the crash spread Wednesday, advocacy group Bike Lane Uprising announced it was organizing a vigil for the woman to honor her life and raise awareness about the need for more protected bike lanes. Social media posts showed people gathering in the bike lane Wednesday night to stop traffic from veering into it.

Christina Whitehouse started the group’s website, where users can submit information about obstructions in bike lanes, after she was nearly hit by a turning truck.

“While many miles of bike lanes exist, they’re often blocked by drivers that use them as free parking,” the group wrote online.

Chicago has more than 248 miles of bike lanes, according to the city. More than 80 miles of bike lanes are currently protected with barriers or by buffered lanes, which provide additional space between bicyclists and other traffic.

In 2017, alderman passed an ordinance requiring side guards be installed on the city’s entire truck fleet by 2026 and on trucks operated by private contractors by 2021. The guards can prevent bicyclists from being “hooked” by the trucks as they turn and help keep cyclists from being pushed under tires.

So far this year, Chicago has seen two other bicyclist fatalities — both of them hit-and-runs.

Vincent Tran, 26, was struck Oct. 20 by a dark-colored vehicle that drove off after the crash as he biked on Irving Park Road at Kimball Avenue. Tran, who initially complained of back pain, died a week later from a head injury, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled.

In September, 56-year-old Richard Williams was riding a bike when he was fatally struck by a Chevy Trailblazer in the 4500 block of West Lake Street in Garfield Park. The driver did not stop and Williams was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and pronounced dead an hour later.

A police spokesperson said Wednesday that no arrests have been made in those cases.

Despite the fatalities this year, Chicago is on pace to have a lower bicyclist fatality count than last year. In 2018, the city recorded five deaths of bicyclists, according to Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation.