Barriers Placed Where Model Plunged to Death

Woman drowned after driving off Blackhawk Street into river

By Dick Johnson
|  Tuesday, May 24, 2011  |  Updated 12:02 AM CDT
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City workers erect a barrier to prevent another fatal traffic accident.

City workers erect a barrier to prevent another fatal traffic accident.

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City workers erected barriers Monday at the site where a 25-year-old aspiring model drove her car into the Chicago River.

Irma Sabanovic died May 12th after she apparently took a wrong turn near Elston Avenue and Blackhawk Street while on her way to meet up with friends at a nightclub. Her blue Ford Focus wasn't discovered until Saturday.

The new concrete barriers and metal reflector signs are designed to prevent another car from rolling down the steep embankment into the river.

"That was the worst part of the news, knowing it could have been prevented, hearing that the city could have done something," Sabanovic's friend, Evelina Alikadic, said.

It's not the first time a tragedy has happened at this location. In 1992, Rick Roman, a rising star at Chicago Improv Olympic, was earning extra cash by driving a cab and also drove into the river on Blackhawk, directly across the north branch from where Sabanovic drowned.

"They found him in the back seat of the cab, and he was pounding on the windows, trying to break them out, and the coroner said his hands were all black and blue," Improv Olympic founder Charna Halpern said. "So he had time, and that's why it kills me to think of this poor woman."

Sabanovic's friends will pay tribute to her Saturday at the scene of her death.

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