Parents warn of deadly snow-ramp crashes, sister of Chicago cop faces Jan. 6 riot charges and more in your Chicago news roundup
Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.
Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a five-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.
This afternoon will be mostly cloudy with a high near 27 degrees. Tonight will be cloudy with a chance of snow and a low near 23. Tomorrow will be mostly cloudy with patchy flurries and a high near 32.
With another snowy winter driving season here, the grieving parents of a young man killed when his truck flew off a snow-plowed bridge want drivers to realize they could face the same danger.
“I don’t want to see other people be injured or killed,” Craig Weber says of his son’s accident and other crashes the past few years in Chicago, Milwaukee and other wintry locales in which drivers slid up against snow that had been pushed by plows against highway barriers and were vaulted off elevated roads.
Christopher Weber was 27. The snow had stopped falling a full day before. He was making his morning commute over the towering Hoan Bridge on Interstate 794 along Milwaukee’s lakefront six years ago. His pickup truck hit ice on the bridge and fishtailed. As he slid, the concrete barrier at the side of the highway didn’t keep him on the road. Plowed snow was packed hard and high against it, so the barrier acted like a snowboarder’s ramp. Weber couldn’t keep from riding up that ramp and vaulting off the bridge.
Weber, who just weeks earlier had started work at an information technology job he’d dreamed of getting, was killed when his truck landed on its roof 44 feet below.
“My thought was, ‘It’s a freak accident,’ ” says his father, who was a police officer for 41 years in southeastern Wisconsin. “Maybe it’s not so freakish.”
No government agency tracks these crashes. But a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has tallied 53 such snow-ramp crashes in cold-weather states since 1994, including five in Chicago and Milwaukee in a two-week span last year. Among them, the Sun-Times reported, two people were killed when their car flew off a snow ramp on the Stevenson Expressway in Chicago. Two other vehicles vaulted off snow ramps on highways in Milwaukee.
Authorities responsible for snow removal in Illinois and Wisconsin haven’t done enough to ease this danger, Weber’s parents say.
“I would wish that they would change those policies so that doesn’t happen to another family,” says Deb Myrick, Christopher Weber’s mother.
More news you need
- Candlelight vigils were planned today as Chicago police reported no new leads in last week’s mass shooting outside Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen. Nathan Billegas, 14, and Brandon Perez, 15, were killed and two other teens were wounded as classes were dismissed Friday at the school.
- Robert Crimo Jr., whose son has been charged with killing seven people and wounding dozens more at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade, was released Saturday from the Lake County Jail on $50,000 bail. Crimo Jr. faces seven felony reckless conduct charges for sponsoring his son Robert Crimo III’s application for a state firearm owner’s identification card.
- With Chicago topping 700 homicides for the second straight year, Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announced an “Emergency Supplemental Victims’ Fund” to provide cash grants to the families of those killed. The pilot program will start in five neighborhoods that have experienced gun violence — East Garfield Park, West Garfield Park, Englewood, West Englewood and New City — before expanding to “more communities in the future,” according to City Hall.
- A year-and-a-half after federal prosecutors charged a Chicago police officer for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, they have now also filed criminal charges against his sister. Agnieszka Chwiesiuk, 29, of Chicago, was arrested today and faces multiple misdemeanor charges related to her alleged participation in the insurrection.
- Relatedly, the House committee tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 attack unveiled a criminal referral for former President Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports. The committee cited evidence it says merits prosecution by the Justice Department.
- Parents and teachers at McClellan Elementary School in Bridgeport say CPS delayed for months testing that last week found high levels of lead in three rooms, including a special education classroom. Our Brett Chase has more from teachers and parents on the findings here.
- A procession of more than 75 vehicles — some topped with glowing menorahs — traveled from Rogers Park to the Loop to observe the first night of Hanukkah. Our Emmanuel Camarillo has more on a community’s celebration of strength and resilience here.
- Sam Bankman-Fried, who sold himself as a whiz kid and disrupter, has been arrested in the collapse of his FTX cryptocurrency exchange — something Terrence Duffy, chairman of Chicago-based exchange owner CME Group, saw coming. Our David Roeder explains Duffy’s foresight in his column here.
- And, with union organizing drives brewing at area coffee chains, workers at Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago are the first to taste a collective bargaining agreement. The workers have ratified a two-year contract that delivers wage increases and job protections, Local 1220 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers announced Friday.
A bright one
Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s ‘Ghosts’ tour a familiar lights- and lasers-filled Christmas extravaganza
Holiday festivities for many include family and community dinners, a Hanukkah menorah, a Kwanzaa kinara, visits to Christkindlmarket in Daley plaza, or even a Festivus pole.
If, however, nothing completes your own joyous celebration better than dazzling lights and lasers, pyrotechnics, and Christmas carols delivered with thundering guitars, chances are you’re a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The group, affectionately known as TSO, returns to the Allstate Arena on Wednesday with “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve — The Best of TSO and More.”
TSO began in 1996 as the brainchild of the late composer/producer Paul O’Neill, whose idea was to create a project that would push the boundaries of symphonic rock. The vision drew upon the theatricality of progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd and conceptual storytelling from rock operas like the Who’s “Tommy.” Broadway composers including Andrew Lloyd Webber and classical pieces like Carl Orff’s bombastic “O Fortuna” provided further inspiration. O’Neill enlisted members of the heavy metal band Savatage, including guitarist and TSO musical director Al Pitrelli.
This year’s TSO tour (which features 101 shows) centers upon “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” which began as a 1999 television special including songs from TSO’s first two albums, “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” and “The Christmas Attic.”
The storyline involves a prodigal child who longs for home on Christmas Eve and learns that it’s never too late to reconcile with loved ones. The expanded concert program, which includes holiday staples like “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” and “Wizards in Winter,” was first presented in 2015 and ran seasonally through 2018. The show has evolved, but Pitrelli emphasizes the importance of maintaining its core.
Throughout its touring career, TSO has donated a portion of every ticket sold to charities in host cities. Chicago-based organizations have included food banks and arts programs in public schools. Chicago is an important city to TSO, and home to many longtime fans whom Pitrelli fondly calls his “repeat offenders.”
“There were seven cities on our first itinerary in 1999, and Chicago was one of them,” says Pitrelli. Since 2003, TSO has made 18 visits for 33 performances at the Allstate Arena. The guitarist eagerly anticipates his return.
“I love standing downstage center for the solo in ‘O Holy Night’ and staring up at that wooden ceiling,” says Pitrelli. “And after the second show at the Allstate, get me my Lou Malnati’s pizza! Once a year, that’s my guilty pleasure.”
From the press box
- There are 215 million reasons why the Bulls’ struggles fall on guard Zach LaVine, Joe Cowley argues in his latest.
- After an uneven Bears lost 25-20 to the Eagles yesterday, coach Matt Eberflus maintains they’re on right track.
- Bears guard Teven Jenkins has been released from the hospital after leaving yesterday’s game with a neck injury.
- Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson’s attentiveness toward Blackhawks goalies is rare among NHL coaches, Ben Pope explains.
- The Red Stars face an uncertain future after three of their stalwarts sign elsewhere.
Your daily question☕
What’s something every Chicagoan should do to prepare for a snowstorm?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
On Friday, we asked you: What’s the best part about winter in Chicago?
Here’s what some of you said...
“The best part of winter in Chicago is the fun you can have in Chicago’s parks and lakefront — you can walk, sled, bike, walk your dog, sit on a bench and absorb the beauty or have a snowball fight.” — Gene Tenner
“Newly fallen snow on the trees and undisturbed on the landscape. The same trees defined by an ice storm, outlined in crystal. It’s the following sludge and/or sliding through intersections that take its toll.” — Elizabeth Bj Fukawa
“Getting out the snow blower. I love it.” — Ray Westbrook
“Staying inside and looking at the beautiful snow through the windows!” — Louise Nusbaum
“Iceskating in Millenium Park or Maggie Daley Ribbon. Seeing the beautiful Christmas decorations down Michigan Ave or Marshall Fields — I still call it that — but after that, I really hate the ice, cold and snow and that wind!” — Barbara Crowley
“Hats, boots, gloves, long coats, and salt stains. Magnificent!” — Robert Lisowski
“The lights on the buildings glistening in the snow.” — Leslie A. Fritz Harris
“Honestly? I love radiator heat. I love to hear it when it begins to hiss and jangle. It gives me great comfort.” — Timothy Patrick Kirby
“When it’s real quiet and the snow is falling.” — Jackie Waldhier
“The best part of winter in Chicago is when it ends in June.” — Howard Moore
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