The number of hit-and-run crashes in Chicago has skyrocketed over the past year, according to an NBC 5 Investigates’ analysis of the city’s own data that shows the past 12 months have seen the highest number of crashes, deaths and incapacitating injuries of the past four years.
NBC 5 Investigates analyzed every car crash reported by Chicago police from Nov. 1, 2017, through Oct. 31, 2021: 439,688 crashes in all.
Of those, 130,536 were classified as hit-and-runs.
The past 12 months have seen 36,305 hit-and-run crashes, an average of nearly 100 each day and an 18.3% increase over the 30,695 that occurred the year before, according to the city’s data. A total of 32,135 hit-and-runs occurred in the previous 12 months, with 31,401 recorded in the year before that.
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This past June marked the highest number of hit-and-run crashes of any month in the past four years, with 3,565 crashes in June alone where the driver fled the scene.
One of those crashes changed Sebastian Taylor’s life forever.
Taylor, his fiancée Selina Taylor and their two sons, 12-year-old David and 4-month-old Sebastian Jr., were returning home from a Juneteenth celebration just after 1 a.m. on June 20 when their car was struck by someone driving a stolen vehicle with the lights off at the intersection of State Street and Pershing Road.
Sebastian Taylor and their older son David survived. But Selina Taylor and their infant son did not.
The driver of the stolen car, which had been pursued by Illinois State Police, fled the scene and has not been seen since.
A spokeswoman for ISP said in a statement that the agency is investigating whether its personnel “followed policy in relation to the events leading up to the crash” but declined to disclose any further details because the investigation remains ongoing.
Four months later, the family says they still know virtually nothing about what happened.
"I don’t know what the truth is, but that’s what I want to know," Sebastian Taylor said. "The truth - like what really happened."
"That’s what I honestly want to know, what really happened, you know, so I can understand, so I can understand, get it through my brain and know what really happened that night," he continued. "I could bring it to my son, we can - we’d cry, whatever we’re gonna do. And try to put our lives back together as best we can."
As hit-and-run crashes have spiked in the last year, so too have deaths. A total of 40 people died in hit-and-runs in the past 12 months, which is double the 20 deaths that occurred the year before. The 12-month period concluding at the end of October 2019 saw 22 deaths in total, while the year before that saw 20.
August 2021 and December 2020 tied for the deadliest month, the city’s data shows, each with six people dying as a result of hit-and-runs.
And this last July was the highest total for hit-and-run crashes causing incapacitating injuries, with 69 people falling victim.
A total of 515 people suffered serious injuries as a result of hit-and-run crashes in the past year, according to the city’s data. That number has climbed each of the past four years, from 417 in the 12 months ending with October 2018, to 424 the following year, to 451 the year after that and now well over 500.
These numbers show that the last 12 months have seen the highest figures in every hit-and-run metric in the books: the most deaths, the most serious injuries and the most crashes period.
It’s not clear why this tragic increase has occurred. But it has taken place against a backdrop of skyrocketing carjackings and expressway shootings citywide.
For victims like Sebastian Taylor and his family, hit-and-run crashes can leave behind a raft of unanswered questions and unfathomable pain.
"To have your family gone in an instant - and over what? Like that’s something you’ll never get over,” Sebastian Taylor said. “You have to find ways to cope with it but you’ll never get over that. Even when I finally find out the truth of what happened."