‘This is what we warned about’

Spread the love

Neighbors furious over pedestrian death on Cicero 

By Tim Hadac

            For as long as two years, Southwest Side neighbors have warned that unless the Lightfoot Administration puts an end to drag racing and drifting along the Pulaski Road and Cicero Avenue corridors, innocent men, women and even children would wind up getting injured or killed.

It happened four months ago, when a 22-year-old man was shot twice in a parking lot near 71st and Pulaski.

It happened again, just days ago.

At 1:37 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, a woman standing near 65th and Cicero was struck and killed in a crash caused by what several witnesses said were two cars drag racing.

GSWNH ShawmanMeireis 090922

Ms. Meireis

The victim, Shawman Meireis, was from Naples, Fla. and reportedly was visiting the area to attend the Sacred Rose music festival at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview.

According to published reports, she and her boyfriend were on foot, attempting to cross the street to get a late-night meal when two Corvettes which witnesses and police said were speeding south on Cicero crashed into a third vehicle, which hit Meireis.

At the scene, her boyfriend reportedly grabbed the driver of the red Corvette that may have caused the crash, pinned him against a traffic light pole and hollered, “You killed my girlfriend!”

Meireis was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 2:04 a.m., a day before her 41st birthday.

She was described by family members as a woman of achievement and good cheer. She worked as an independent consultant specializing in pharmaceutical safety, research and management.

GSWNH RedCorvetteCrashPage1 090922

The red Corvette said to have caused the fatal crash sits at the southwest corner of 65th and Cicero, as police and paramedics at the scene investigate and render aid. –Screenshot from a television news report

The driver of the red Corvette, a 27-year-old man, told police he was speeding because he was fleeing men who had tried to carjack his vehicle. Witnesses at the scene cast doubt on that claim, saying they saw him stopped at a nearby stoplight, revving his engine repeatedly before speeding south.

A police officer who asked that his name be withheld told the Greater Southwest News-Herald he, too, doubted the claim. He said the “fleeing carjackers” claim is increasingly used by drag racers to rationalize reckless driving to police who stop them. In fact, the gunman in the May shooting near 71st and Pulaski reportedly told police he was fleeing a carjacker.

The driver of the red Corvette at 65th and Cicero was given citations for failure to exercise due caution with a pedestrian in a walkway, as well as having an obstructed windshield.

Police did not say if they ticketed the driver of the other Corvette, a 19-year-old woman.

Citizens astounded, disgusted

Upon hearing that, a woman who witnessed the aftermath of the crash said she could not believe her ears.

“Shouldn’t the driver of [the red Corvette] be in jail?” asked Kathie Gentry, a guest in a hotel in the complex at 65th and Cicero. “All he got was a ticket? Shouldn’t he be charged with reckless driving or endangerment, or homicide or whatever the law is [in Illinois]? So he goes free while that poor woman died a painful and horrible death? Who’s to say he won’t be behind the wheel of another car next week, driving the same way again? Who’s his next victim? Is this the message Chicago sends to visitors?”

Fidelina Trujillo, who lives within walking distance of 65th and Cicero, said, “This is what we warned about. Everybody over here knows that after dark, you don’t want to go near Ford City or anywhere near Cicero Avenue. We can’t go out after a certain hour. We’re prisoners in our homes after dark. We’ve told this again and again to anyone we thought might listen. But nobody has listened; or if they did, it went in one ear and out the other.”

The day after Meireis’ death, CPD Supt. David Brown initially avoided blaming drag racing as the cause of the crash.

He also asked the people of Chicago to have patience in letting enforcement of a new city ordinance take effect. The new law allows CPD to track and impound vehicles used in reckless driving incidents. But the impoundments may not occur until days, weeks or even months later, Brown added.

He likened it to arrests made after the George Floyd riots of 2020—how some rioters and looters were not arrested until months and even more than a year after their crimes.

He also said that drag racing and drifting are problems in big cities across the nation.

When he heard the superintendent’s comments, Archer Heights Civic Association President Thomas S. Baliga expressed disgust and called Brown “impotent.”

“Anytime a major catastrophic incident such as this occurs, all he ever does is call a press conference and makes bold proclamations about how the CPD is going to crackdown on the crime dujour,” he told the Greater Southwest News-Herald. If in reality he walked the talk, this drag racing and drifting problem would have been solved two years ago.”

“I’ve had enough of [Mayor Lori Lightfoot] and her do-nothing police superintendent,” he continued. “People in Archer Heights, as well as Jason Huff and the Scottsdale Neighborhood Watch, have been jumping up and down and waving red flags about drag racing and drifting for more than two years. The people of the neighborhoods have been ignored, and now a visitor to our great city has paid for it with her life.

“What a horrendous situation for this woman, in the prime of her life, to have her existence snuffed out by such an outrageous act of stupidity committed by two drivers deliberately speeding down Cicero Avenue only to stroke their selfish egos. It’s beyond time for this mayor to get rid of this superintendent and appoint someone from the Deputy Superintendent rank and file that knows all neighborhoods and knows how to deal with this mess the city now faces. ”

Baliga said the same night Meireis was killed, drag racers and drifters staged a takeover of the intersection at 50th and Cicero. He obtained and released cellphone video of what he said was the takeover. He added that he visited the site during daylight hours Sunday and saw “all kinds of skid marks on the street” where the drag racing and drifting reportedly occurred.

Other ideas

Beyond tracking down reckless drivers after the fact, police officials said they may start using other city departments to prevent drag racers and drifters from gathering. One such idea is to use large city vehicles such as salt spreaders to block or at least restrict access to certain streets and large parking lots.

That idea was raised months ago by Huff, who back then said city officials told him they would not dedicate the resources to do that.

In an email the day after Meireis died, Huff sent an email to two Southwest Side aldermen, suggesting that the City’s Gang Loitering Ordinance be expanded to what he called “mob loitering,” which he said would enable police to issue fines to spectators who gather to cheer on drag racers and drifters.

“In addition, send notices to the State of Illinois suspending the licenses [of drag racers and drifters] until fines are paid,” he wrote to 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez and 23rd Ward Ald. Silvana Tabares, both foes of reckless driving.

Local News

Mount Carmel guard Grant Best looks to drive to the basket while be defending by Lyons senior Ian Polonowski during a game at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Summer League Basketball | Illinois powers compete at Riverside-Brookfield Shootout

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent School’s out for the summer, but high school athletes across Illinois are remaining active during the summer sports season. This includes basketball players, who can be found at camps, open gyms, camps and even weekend tournaments. Among the more high-profile hoops action in the area was the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout,…

Dana Rettke, a graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School, will play on the U.S. women's volleyball team at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

Dana Rettke and Ryan Murphy heading to Paris Summer Games

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Area fans of the Summer Olympics will have extra reasons to cheer athletes from the United States in the upcoming Paris Games. Dana Rettke of Riverside is a member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team and Palos Heights native Ryan Murphy will represent the country in swimming. Rettke, a…

Kathy Headley

Hope Church feeds the hungry at Marquette Park

Spread the love

Spread the love. Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 . Last week on the way to our CAPS meeting at the Marquette Park Fieldhouse, I stopped in at the Tuesday Community Dinner hosted by Hope Church every week in the auditorium. Pastors Ben and Jordyn…

Peggy Zabicki

May this summer be a good season

Spread the love

Spread the love. By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place •  (773) 504-9327 . “Summer was our best season. It was sleeping on the screened porch on cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse, summer was everything good to eat. It was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.”…

Shepard basketball coach Corey Wolf draws up a play during the Astros game against Argo June 14 at the Stagg Shootout. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Corey Wolf ‘living the dream’ as new Shepard hoops coach

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent For Corey Wolf, obtaining the ultimate high school basketball prize started in the summer of 2007. Wolf was playing for a Richards team that had showed much promise, having gone 26-3 and winning a regional title the previous season. Then-Bulldogs coach John Chappetto let his players know when summer…

Mallory Swanson of the Chicago Red Stars had a goal and assist in a 2-2 draw with Kansas City. IMAGN photo

Staab header helps Red Stars forge draw with KC

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Heading into the weekend, only Kansas City and Orlando were unbeaten among NWSL teams. The teams were tied atop the league standings, with each sporting 8-0-4 records. They now share another common denominator: Both have forged draws with the Red Stars. Red Stars defender Sam Stabb’s header in the…

NWSL ball

Red Stars unhappy with Riot Fest conflict

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Among the bands that will headline the newly minted Riot Fest music festival are Chicago-area natives Fall Out Boy. The annual concert featuring an eclectic mix of musical acts will be held in Bridgeview Sept. 20-22 — and boy, oh boy, there is a lot of fallout from the…

Sandburg sophomore Daniel Morakinyo is looking forward to the 35-second shot clock, which will be used for the first time in Illinois high school basketball when he is a senior. Photo by Jeff Vorva

It’s about time | Illinois high school hoops gets 35-second shot clock beginning with 2026-27 season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Count Sandburg sophomore Daniel Morakinyo as someone who can’t wait for the 2026-2027 basketball season. The rising guard/forward will be a senior that year, and he will embrace the IHSA’s implementation of a 35-second shot clock for varsity boys and girls basketball. “It’s a good feature,” Morakinyo said after…

Student volunteers from Brother Rice, St. Rita and St. Laurence assist in the
burial of 160 indigents  last week at Mount Olivet Cemetery. (Photos by Nuha Abdessalam)

Volunteers from Brother Rice, St. Rita and St. Laurence help indigent on their final journey

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Nuha Abdessalam Father Larry Sullivan, a director of Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Chicago and pastor of Christ the King Parish, joined County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and spoke words of love, respect, and God at the 35th annual committal service at Mount Olivet Cemetery. The service on June 6 at…

dvn 6-14-24 riot fest lineup

Riot Fest abandons Chicago park for SeatGeek Stadium

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Last year, Lyrical Lemonade moved its Summer Smash hip-hop music festival from Chicago’s Douglass Park to Bridgeview’s SeatGeek Stadium. Thousands of fans poured into the stadium at 7100 S. Harlem Ave. over the course of three days and, by most accounts, enjoyed the experience. Summer Smash returned to SeatGeek this…


National Committeeman Richard Porter looks ahead to GOP convention as party names new state chair

National Committeeman Richard Porter looks ahead to GOP convention as party names new state chair

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – Republicans will gather in Milwaukee next week for what promises to be a historic national convention. Former President Donald Trump will be nominated for the third consecutive time as the party’s presidential nominee, the first major party candidate to win nomination that many times since Franklin…

Speaker Welch rebuffs lawsuit from would-be staff union as ‘forum shopping’

Speaker Welch rebuffs lawsuit from would-be staff union as ‘forum shopping’

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch is urging a Cook County judge to dismiss a lawsuit members of his staff filed against him last month seeking to force recognition of their union. In a new filing Monday, attorneys for Welch argued the Illinois Legislative Staff Association has no…

The U.N. calls restraint chairs torture. Illinois jails use them every day.

The U.N. calls restraint chairs torture. Illinois jails use them every day.

by GRACE HAUCK ILLINOIS ANSWERS PROJECT Warning: The following article includes mentions of self-harm and profanity. This is the first in a series of stories. McHENRY, Ill. – Vernon L. Brooks Jr. was distraught. Forced into a chair in a jail cell with a black mesh hood over his head, he panicked as he felt…

Pritzker signs health insurance reform measures

Pritzker signs health insurance reform measures

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Wednesday that puts new controls on the state’s health insurance industry, including bans on certain practices companies have used to reduce costs by controlling the amount of health care services a patient receives. The Health Care Protection Act, House Bill 5395,…

Transit heads again ask state for funding help, reject proposals for oversight reform

Transit heads again ask state for funding help, reject proposals for oversight reform

By ANDREW ADAMS Capitol News Illinois CHICAGO – It was standing room only in a downtown Chicago committee hearing Tuesday as activists, transit experts and lobbyists hung on the words of the region’s transit agency chiefs.  Public transit has become an increasingly contentious issue in Chicagoland as the Regional Transportation Authority – the funding…

SCOTUS ruling could upend federal corruption cases for Madigan, allies

SCOTUS ruling could upend federal corruption cases for Madigan, allies

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowed the scope of a federal bribery law prosecutors have relied on in their cases against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and several of his allies convicted of bribing him. A jury last spring found those allies – former lobbyists and…

Former GOP state lawmaker, candidate for governor sentenced to 42 months in prison

Former GOP state lawmaker, candidate for governor sentenced to 42 months in prison

By HANNAH MEISEL Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – Former Republican State Sen. Sam McCann on Tuesday was sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for stealing nearly $700,000 in campaign funds and attempting to conceal his theft with false reports to state election authorities. In February, McCann pleaded guilty to seven counts of wire…

Menard prison staff picket, citing unsafe working conditions

Menard prison staff picket, citing unsafe working conditions

By MOLLY PARKER Capitol News Illinois Hundreds of Menard Correctional Center employees and their supporters staged a rally alongside a busy street in Chester on Monday, highlighting what they described as perilous working conditions at the state’s largest maximum-security prison.   The problems at the southern Illinois facility stem from low staffing levels, said…

Pritzker ‘all in’ for Biden following visit to White House last week

Pritzker ‘all in’ for Biden following visit to White House last week

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday he is “all in” for President Joe Biden after visiting the White House last week with other Democratic governors.  He headed to Washington, D.C., to meet with the president and members of the Democratic Governors Association last Wednesday on the heels of Biden’s…

Illinois switching to ACT exams for state assessments

Illinois switching to ACT exams for state assessments

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD – When Illinois high school students sit down to take their annual state assessments next year, they will take a different exam than in recent years. The Illinois State Board of Education recently announced that starting next spring, it will use the ACT exam rather than the…