Car slams into woman walking her puppy in Humboldt Park. Her message to drivers? ‘Just pay attention’
Before the pandemic, the number of pedestrians hit by cars has trended upward since 2014, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
In the video, Samantha Basar can be seen crossing Division Street in Humboldt Park while out for a walk with her 7-month-old puppy, Dobbs.
At around 2:30 pm., a car pulls up to the same crosswalk, stops — then, as Basar and Dobbs keep walking, the car suddenly starts up and slams into them, throwing the 27-year-old fitness coach into the middle of Campbell Street. Her mixed-breed pet was clipped slightly by the car’s tire and then sprinted eight blocks away after Basar dropped the leash.
Although the video is startling, Basar and Dobbs ended up OK, though she was scraped and bruised and Dobbs still walks with a limp.
Basar posted the video online recently to warn people about the need to look out for others as more people return to the streets and traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s insane how many people just don’t pay attention while they’re walking, on a bicycle or in their cars,” she said. “I think it’s a pretty common occurrence when people have had some pretty close calls.”
The incident is part of an upward trend in pedestrian-vehicle collisions in the past several years before the pandemic, according to data kept by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“Broadly, we have seen disturbing trends in the growing number of pedestrian crashes and injuries and deaths that result from those crashes,” said Kyle Whitehead, spokesman for the Active Transportation Alliance, a non-profit advocacy organization that works to improve conditions for bicycling, walking and transit.
In 2014, 2,480 pedestrians were hit by vehicles in the city, the IDOT data shows. That number grew to nearly 2,900 in 2019. While crashes dropped dramatically during the pandemic, officials hope the numbers don’t return to the trend they were on before with traffic returning to normal levels.
Seventeen pedestrians were killed in collisions this year through the end of May, which is up from 16 last year and 13 deaths during the same time frame in 2019, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. However, the number is below the average number who died, 18.2, in the first five months of each year from 2014 through 2018.
A CDOT spokesman said the city has been trying to reduce the harm caused by automobile collisions through its Vision Zero program.
“Improving the safety for everyone in the right of way is our top priority, and the goal of the Vision Zero Chicago program is to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries,” said Michael Claffey. “We are also installing hundreds of pedestrian safety projects throughout the city.”
In Basar’s case, she thought she was OK to cross the street because she and the driver arrived at the intersection at the same time. The driver also came to a complete stop.
“I was like, ‘She stopped. She sees me,’” said Basar. “As soon as I got in front of the vehicle, she stepped on the gas.”
Basar and the woman who hit her exchanged insurance information. Although Basar declined to identify the driver, she said the woman apologized and said she did not see her or her dog. The woman was not arrested or ticketed.
Basar ended up going to the hospital for a checkup, while Dobbs saw a veterinarian.
“I had scrapes and bruises on my wrist and shin,” Basar said. “My dog got X-rays, and everything’s OK, but he does have a limp.”
A liquor store on Division Street captured the crash on its security camera. About eight good Samaritans saw what happened from Nellie’s Restaurant on Division and rushed to check on her, she said.
The incident particularly disturbed Basar as one of her best friends was killed by a car while crossing a street in New Jersey four years ago.
“There’s a best-case scenario and worst-case scenario when things like this happen,” Basar said. “Thankfully, I was the best-case scenario.”
After her own close call, she has a message for drivers.
“Just pay attention. If you can’t put your phone down, change the radio or put on makeup while driving a car, there’s a serious problem,” Basar said. “You can go 10 to 15 minutes without doing any of those things to potentially save somebody’s life.”
Pedestrians, too, need to stay alert, even when crossing familiar intersections and streets, Basar said.
“My dog escaped the car by like a centimeter,” she said. “I’m thankful that I’m still here.”