Bicyclist Struck, Killed By Semi

Bicyclist swerved around an open car door when he was struck

By Emily Florez and Natalie Martinez
|  Friday, Oct 5, 2012  |  Updated 10:28 PM CDT
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Vigil Held for Bicyclist Killed

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Vigil Held for Bicyclist Killed

Neill Townsend was killed Friday morning when he was hit by a tractor-trailer after trying to swerve around an opening car door. Natalie Martinez reports.
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A bicyclist was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer early Friday on Chicago's North Side, police said.

The bicyclist, identified by a Cook County Medical Examiner's Office spokesperson as 32-year-old Neill Townsend, was riding south on the 900 block of Wells Street just before 9 a.m. when he swerved around an open car door and was struck by the semi.

He was riding in the bike lane when a car parked near the curb opened the driver door, police said. Townsend fell beneath the truck's wheels and died on the scene.

"He was a young kid, a dedicated friend and employee," said Scott Wilson, Townsend's boss at Minimal Inc., a design firm on the 1000 block of West Fulton Market. "He cared about the company more than anyone.

Wilson said Townsend's colleagues are in shock by the news.

"He's one of those guys you just wanted to know for a long time," he said.

Residents said the stretch of Wells is a main biking road from Lincoln Park to downtown. They said these type of accidents happen too often.

"I just started crying, I just couldn't believe it," said Noreen Everheardt. "It happens so frequently on Wells and LaSalle, that people ride on their bicycles and get hit."

The parked car's driver was given a municipal ordinance violation for opening the door in the bike lane and not yielding to the biker. According to officers' preliminary report, the truck driver was not at fault for driving by and will not face charges at this time, police said.

The investigation is ongoing. 

A vigil is planned for Friday night to honor Townsend. Details are at TheChainLink.org.

A sign on the door of Minimal Inc., a design firm at 1032 W. Fulton Market, remembers Neill Townsend.

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