Four people standing in a crowd just outside the White Sox baseball stadium in Chicago were struck and injured by a hit-and-run driver Tuesday evening.
A driver headed east in the 300 block of West 35th Street struck the pedestrians just after 6:30 p.m., Chicago police and fire officials said, as reported by the Chicago Sun Times.
One of the pedestrians who was struck went into the air and through the vehicle's sunroof inside the vehicle in the crash, officials said. He was taken in serious condition to University of Chicago Medical Center, fire officials said.
The Sun Times reported that three others were also hospitalized. A 51-year-old woman was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center in critical condition, a 24-year-old man and a 25-year-old man, were taken to Stroger Hospital in fair and critical condition, police said.
“Our hearts go out to the four fans who were injured this evening, their families and friends, as well as the fans who witnessed the incident on their way to a baseball game,” the White Sox said in a statement. “The Chicago White Sox organization expresses its appreciation to the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Fire Department, the Illinois State Police and others, including fans, who responded to the incident and provided immediate care for the victims.”
The driver fled the scene and crashed on the Dan Ryan Expressway near 46th Street, police said. The male driver and three others in the car — two men, 23 and 25, and a 20-year-old woman —were taken to a nearby hospital in fair condition, officials said, as reported by the Sun Times. Police did not release the age of the driver.
Chicago Police Department Deputy Chief Fred Melean told the Sun Times that the four in the vehicle were in custody at the hospital.
The accident happened about half an hour before the first pitch between the White Sox and Texas Rangers.
Police cordoned off the intersection at 35th and Shields with yellow tape as officers investigated.
Jim O’Malley, a season ticket-holder from Palos Heights, told the Sun Times that he and his wife, Debra, were inside the park when they saw police converging near the expressway.
They didn’t see the incident unfold but said the intersection at 35th and Shields is always chaotic for pedestrians and traffic. Debra noticed it was an issue when arriving at the park before the game.
When his wife “was crossing the street her reaction was that the crossing guards were doing a poor job,” O’Malley said. “We’ve always talked about how crossing here is always a bit of a challenge.”
O’Malley told the newspaper that the White Sox should think about closing more streets around the ballpark to avoid traffic issues and increase safety, like the Cubs do at Wrigley Field.
“I’m not blaming them, but who knows, maybe they could have averted it by being more cautious,” O’Malley said.
“They should not have car traffic on 35th,” Debra O'Malley added.
But the couple said incidents like these won’t stop them from coming to a ballgame.
“We’re from the neighborhood. We know,” O’Malley said. “It’s not like we’re not going to come to the ballpark.”
CPD’s Melean told the Sun Times that accidents don’t often happen at the intersection.
“It’s highly unusual for how many Sox games have gone on that something like this has occurred,” he said, adding that the pedestrians who were struck were on their way to the game.
Melean also said there wasn’t an indication that it was a targeted attack, and investigators are still looking into whether alcohol or drugs may have been involved.