In a tragic series of events in October 2009, a woman was killed after being struck in an intersection–but a conflict in the details led grieving family members to file a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority. According to the CTA, the woman, Martha Gonzalez was first struck by a hit-and-run driver and then struck again accidentally by a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. Her family, however argued in their suit that there was no hit-and-run car, as it was not visible in any of the footage from the bus itself. Whatever the truth is, as of Wednesday September 9th, 2015, the CTA board has approved a payment in the amount of $4.3 million to the woman’s estate, settling the suit.
The CTA describes the hit-and-run vehicle as a blue sedan operated by a male driver, though no suspects for the hit-and-run have been identified since the accident. The CTA bus driver who was said to be following the blue sedan at the time, Frankie Myles, was not charged with any criminal offenses or given a traffic ticket, but retired a few short years after the incident. Although the CTA holds firm to its assertion that Gonzalez was struck accidentally following the initial fatal hit-and-run, CTA president Dorval Carter Jr. has explained that the board feels that making the large settlement payment is the best option to not only avoid the unknowns and higher judgments of proceeding to court, but also to simply and swiftly put to rest a legal issue that is emotionally difficult and potentially stressful for all parties affected by the tragedy.
Since the accident, the intersection where the woman was killed has been renamed Honorary Martha Gonzalez Place. The pedestrian walk signal there now also has an additional safety feature: it activates a full four seconds before the change of the traffic light, hopefully giving pedestrians more time to cross before unscrupulous drivers attempt to cut them off. With dozens of deaths in Chicago each year attributable to accidents involving pedestrians, it may be only a matter of time before similar pedestrian walk signals are required at every intersection.