Hit-and-Run

Reports Reveal Details of Deadly Hit-and-Run as Surviving Victim Says Police Kept Him in Dark

NBC Universal, Inc.

Sebastian Taylor can’t understand why the perpetrators of the car crash that killed his wife and infant son ran away. 

“I know you feel it,” he said. “I know you feel it!”

But there’s something else he doesn’t understand: why Chicago police still haven’t made an arrest for the hit-and-run, which happened more than nine months ago. What’s more, he said police have left him in the dark about what even led to the crash.

“Haven’t heard anything,” he said. “They won’t even talk to me.”

The crash that killed Taylor’s family was one of more than 37,000 hit-and-runs that occurred in Chicago in 2021, leaving at least 36 people dead and more than 4,800 injured. That same year, Chicago police made just 306 arrests on charges related to fleeing the scene of a crash, according to city data analyzed by NBC 5 Investigates.

This crash took place at around 1:14 a.m. on June 20, 2021, at State Street and Pershing Road, when a red Chevrolet Malibu struck Taylor’s car in the intersection as his family was returning home from a Juneteenth celebration.

Taylor said a detective told him after the crash that they had found video showing the driver and a passenger fleeing the scene, leaving the car behind.

“He said that everything is on video,” Taylor told NBC 5 Investigates.  “He said they seen the guys – they know who the guys is.”

And the Chicago police report shows that they’ve known since day one who the vehicle is registered to. But still, not only have police not made an arrest in the case – Taylor says they’ve told him virtually nothing about what happened that night.

NBC 5 Investigates has made repeated requests to the Chicago Police Department, the lead agency investigating the crash, for an interview both on this case and the low clearance rate on hit-and-runs in general. Those requests have not been granted.

But when NBC 5 examined that Chicago police report, the only one the agency has made available on this crash, something stuck out: a single line in the sole paragraph of narrative.

“At one time, Illinois State Police were pursing [sic] unit 1 prior to the traffic crash.”

Because of that one line, NBC 5 Investigates filed an open records request with the Illinois State Police to learn more about that pursuit. It sent the story in a whole new direction.

ISP field reports, as well as a 500-page report on the agency’s internal investigation into the actions that preceded the crash, indicate that a trooper in an unmarked K-9 unit spotted the vehicle in question driving at a high rate of speed at around 12:47 a.m. on I-57 southbound near 147th Street.

The trooper ran the plates to find that the vehicle bore a stolen license plate, then continued to follow it past I-80, staying behind the vehicle as it exited I-57 in Matteson to turn westbound onto Route 30.

The vehicle seemingly met up with another car – both registered out of Rockford – and the trooper followed them as all three made a U-turn, with the Malibu getting back onto I-57 northbound as the other car continued east on Route 30, according to ISP.

The trooper continued to follow the first vehicle with the stolen plate, never activating his lights or siren, though the report says he hit a top speed of 115 miles per hour before eventually notifying dispatch and other units that he was unable to keep up with the speeding Malibu.

Other ISP troopers joined in as the suspect car flew past, ultimately exiting the Dan Ryan Expressway at 43rd Street in Chicago. The fatal crash at this point is just minutes away, but at 1:11 a.m., all state police units were told to stand down.

The fleeing car kept rolling north on LaSalle Street, making a right turn at 31st Street, then another right to head south on State Street. One witness interviewed during ISP’s internal investigation said he saw a state police vehicle still close behind.

The Malibu crashed into the Taylor family’s vehicle just before 1:14 a.m., with that ISP unit the first to arrive on the scene less than a minute later.

“When they hit us, Illinois State Police was right there. It wasn’t like no minutes later, they was right there,” Taylor recalled.

When NBC 5 Investigates shared with Taylor the documents obtained, he questioned why he was just now learning the details of the Illinois State Police operation which preceded the horrific crash.

“You getting it means the world to me,” he said.  “Because I haven’t even been able to get it and I was the one involved in the accident. It was my family!”

ISP’s internal investigation into two troopers’ actions that night cleared them of wrongdoing, concluding that despite the high speed, the incident was not classified as a pursuit – both because they followed at a distance without emergency lights or sirens activated, and because they stopped when instructed to disregard the vehicle.

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