Woman visiting Chicago is struck and killed by speeding Corvette ‘showing off’ with another Corvette, police and witnesses say
Shawman Meireis, from Florida, was in the crosswalk at Cicero Avenue and 65th Street when one of the cars careened into her early Sunday, according to police.
Shawman Meireis was visiting Chicago with her boyfriend, on her way to a late dinner, when two Corvettes came racing toward her on Cicero Avenue near Midway Airport.
They were cutting off each other and weaving through traffic until one of them hit a car and careened into Meireis as she crossed the street early Sunday, according to police and witnesses.
Meireis was thrown to the pavement as the crumpled Corvette came to rest near the corner of 65th Street. Witnesses said Meireis went in and out of consciousness until paramedics took her to Christ Medical Center, where she died.
The boyfriend was seen grabbing the driver of the Corvette and throwing him against a street lamp. “You killed my girlfriend,” he said. “You killed my girlfriend.”
Meireis’ family said she and her boyfriend were visiting from Naples, Fla. She was killed a day before her 41st birthday.
She “was a much-loved daughter, sister, aunt, and partner,” her family said in a statement. “Shawman 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.”
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The driver who hit Meireis told officers at the scene that he had been fleeing a carjacking. But the police report cites witnesses who said the drivers of both Corvettes were racing each other just before the accident at 1:40 a.m.
Two witnesses told the Sun-Times the driver who hit Meireis appeared to be “showing off” to the other Corvette driver. One witness said the two Corvettes, one red and the other blue, were both stopped at 63rd Street and sped off when the light turned green, cutting off drivers as they kept up with each other.
The driver of the red Corvette changed lanes to overtake the blue Corvette and struck a Hyundai headed in the other direction and turning left at 65th Street, according to one witness. The red Corvette continued into a crosswalk and hit Meireis, police said. A paramedic told people at the scene that her pulse was faint as they placed her into an ambulance.
One witness said he overheard that the woman and her boyfriend were headed to dinner after attending a music festival in Bridgeview.
Another witness said the blue Corvette continued without stopping. “Coward didn’t stay a second to make sure the other driver ... was OK. Drove off instantly,” said the witness, who asked not to be named.
He scoffed at the driver’s story about a carjacking. “If I personally was running from a carjacking, I wouldn’t wait at a light revving my engine. I’d run to hide from whatever is chasing me.
“Very tragic,” the witness added. “Very irresponsible of the racers taking an innocent person’s life.”
The driver of the red Corvette, a 27-year-old man, was cited for obstructed front windshield and failure to exercise due care with a pedestrian in the roadway. No other charges have been announced.
Meireis grew up in Maine, then attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Boston University before receiving her MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, family spokeswoman Lauren McCauley said.
She worked as an independent consultant, most recently focused on pharmaceutical safety, research and management.
The crash happened during a weekend of “street takeovers” across the city, with drivers from Chicago’s underground car scene performing stunts at scattered intersections and at times clashing with police who intervened.
Police Supt. David Brown said Monday morning there was no evidence yet that the accident on Cicero Avenue was related to drag-racing, despite witness statements. “That would be pure speculation at this point,” Brown said, saying the investigation was still ongoing.
Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the Major Accident Investigation Unit was handling the case and will “use technology” to track the car “that ultimately caused the crash.”
“If there’s any connection, we’ll be able to figure out,” he told reporters. “But we don’t have that connection at this time right now. The investigation is pretty new and ongoing.”
Asked about a traffic crash report that indicates cars were speeding down Cicero ahead of the crash, Brown acknowledged the department has “statements alluding to the speculation that it might have been drag racing.”
Contributing: Tom Schuba