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$3.25 Million Settlement in Crosswalk Hit-and-Run Death

$3.25 Million Settlement in Crosswalk Hit-and-Run Death

July 24, 2012 — The city of Chicago will pay $3.25 million to the family of a girl who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a crosswalk near the Lincoln Park Zoo in 2006. The full City Council meets tomorrow and is expected to grant final approval to the settlement. Traffic safety advocates have rallied around this case as an example of why the city needs to improve pedestrian safety. There were nearly 40 pedestrian fatalities in Chicago last year, and the city has made it a priority to reduce pedestrian deaths.

The fatal accident occurred on May 20, 2006. Michael Roth, 57, ran through a stop sign and struck 4 year-old Maya Hirsch, her mother, and her 6 year-old brother, Ben. Maya was dragged under the car, and her mother and brother were slightly injured. Despite the cries of witnesses who yelled for Roth to stop and chased after the vehicle, it sped off. Fortunately, witnesses were able to verify his vanity license plate, “OCEAN 21,” and police quickly tracked Roth to his North Side condo and arrested him.

Roth already had multiple traffic tickets and past felony convictions for robbery and aggravated assault. In 2007, he was convicted of a hit-and-run and sentenced to eight years in prison. He died in prison less than a year later, on April 5, 2008.

The family of Maya Hirsch filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago, alleging that the crosswalk where Maya was killed was poorly marked, with signs that were improperly placed or deteriorated due to neglect. Roth testified that he did not see the stop sign or other traffic signs at the intersection.

The crosswalk had not been painted for six years before the accident. Police photos showed that the lines were faded. The stop sign was at least two inches shorter than the 7-foot height requirement. There were also other traffic control signs that were too close to the stop sign.

Two days after the accident, city crews repainted the crosswalk with bright white lines, new road markings, new stop signs, and other new traffic signs.

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