Police: New charges for driver, bicyclist partly to blame for own death
Mount Prospect police announced Friday that additional charges have been brought against the driver involved in a fatal June collision with a 55-year-old bicyclist riding on a controversial pedestrian crossing in Mount Prospect.
Police said their completed investigation revealed Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village caused the collision.
But they said the bicyclist, Joni Beaudry, contributed to the crash on Central Road.
Burzynska initially received citations for failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk and failing to reduce speed to avoid a crash on the date of the crash, authorities said. She now also is charged with driving in violation of a restriction (corrective lenses required) and improper passing of a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk. The charge of failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash will be amended to driving too fast for conditions.
Burzynska is next scheduled to appear in court at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 14 in Rolling Meadows.
Police also cited a state traffic law that says pedestrians may enter the roadway only when it is safe to do so and not when another vehicle is so close as to constitute a danger.
"While this is not the conclusion many in the community would desire," Police Chief Tim Janowick said, "it is the correct legal conclusion based on the traffic laws. The crossing of roadways by pedestrians and bicyclists is a partnership between the drivers and pedestrians. Drivers must stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk, but pedestrians may not enter a lane of traffic until it is safe to do so."
Beaudry's husband, Eric Jakubowski, wrote Janowick saying his statement "is slanderous and irresponsible."
"The fact that I waited 16 weeks for a report that was complete within the first two weeks shows questionable judgment on your part," he wrote. "I will take this matter further."
"You insult my wife and her life," he wrote. "... To suggest that Joni didn't know how to cross a street is a crime."
On June 9, Beaudry, a Mount Prospect resident, was riding her bicycle in the crosswalk, heading north across Central Road toward Melas Park, when she was struck by the eastbound Lexus SUV driven by Burzynska.
Police said witnesses saw Beaudry activate the warning beacons at the crossing, and witnesses in both eastbound and westbound traffic saw the lights.
Three vehicles in the eastbound curb lane came to a stop before the crosswalk. After they stopped, Beaudry began riding her bicycle across. As she reached the eastbound median lane, she was struck by Burzynska's Lexus.
Mount Prospect paramedics tended to Beaudry at the scene and took her to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. She died from her injuries on June 11.
Police said Burzynska admitted she was driving 40 miles per hour in the posted 35 mile per hour zone. Data recovered from the Lexus supported her speed estimate, police said.
Burzynska also said she did not see the flashing beacons before the collision and reported not seeing Beaudry until the bicyclist rode in front of her Lexus, police said.
Village Manager Michael Cassady said a center median and overhead warning beacons are being installed as an interim safety measure at the intersection of Central Road and Weller Lane by Melas Park.
He also said the village is asking the Illinois Department of Transportation for new measures including reducing the speed limit on Central to 30, matching speed limits of nearby Northwest Highway in the downtown area. The village hopes IDOT will respond to the requests in the next 60 days.
Janowick said the culture also will need to change.
"Until we change our driving habits and start stopping for pedestrians, I fear we will continue to see tragedies like this one," he said. "A family is devastated by the loss of a wife and mother. The community has mourned with them."