Widower confronts Mount Prospect leaders over findings in bicyclist's death

  • Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park, speaks before the Mount Prospect village board during Tuesday's meeting.

    Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park, speaks before the Mount Prospect village board during Tuesday's meeting. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek addresses the concerns of resident Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park.

    Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek addresses the concerns of resident Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park, speaks before the Mount Prospect village board during Tuesday's meeting.

    Eric Jakubowski, the widower of a bicyclist Joni Beaudry, who was killed June 9 while crossing Central Road near Melas Park, speaks before the Mount Prospect village board during Tuesday's meeting. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Eric Jakubowski said his wife, Joni Beaudry, did everything she was supposed to do in order to safely cross Central Road in Mount Prospect before she was struck and killed while riding her bike in June.

    Eric Jakubowski said his wife, Joni Beaudry, did everything she was supposed to do in order to safely cross Central Road in Mount Prospect before she was struck and killed while riding her bike in June. Courtesy of Eric Jakubowski

 
Updated 10/4/2016 11:56 PM

Eric Jakubowski called the findings, published in a news release last week, that put the blame for the collision on the driver but said his wife's actions contributed to the collision "an insensitive attack on my family."

Residents also reiterated their concerns about the crossing at Central Road and Weller Lane, with its flashing yellow beacon lights they say create confusion for drivers and pedestrians.

 

Jakubowski also had blistering words for the village, saying it attempted to deflect attention from its negligence. "Never once did that (police) report mention the signal," he said. "This is a CYA. We all know it."

By the end of Tuesday's village board meeting, Trustee John Matuszak asked the village staff to review the possibility of taking out the lights at the crosswalk, as well as taking out

the crosswalk altogether and putting up signs advising people to cross at Central Road and Busse Road. The staff will be conducting that review.

After activating yellow warning beacons and waiting for three eastbound vehicles to stop, Joni Beaudry, 55, on June 9 began riding her bicycle toward Melas Park along the crosswalk at Central Road and Weller Lane. As she reached the eastbound median lane, she was struck by a Lexus SUV.

On Friday, Mount Prospect police released findings from its investigation of the fatal collision.

Although placing primary blame on the driver, Hanna Burzynska, 56, of Elk Grove Village, the investigation found Beaudry's actions "to be a contributing factor to the collision," adding that state traffic law requires pedestrians to enter the roadway "only when safe to do so and not to enter a roadway when another vehicle is so close as to constitute a danger."

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Jakubowski challenged that statement.

"This car was traveling in excess of 40 miles an hour. It was likely a block away when Joni stepped off that curb. Three cars had stopped," he said.

Jakubowski also criticized the work of Mount Prospect police, as well as Chief Tim Janowick, who was unable to attend the meeting.

Jakubowski said he met with Janowick last week in his office to discuss the findings. "He never once mentioned any citation involving my wife, suggesting that she had any fault from this accident."

Jakubowski, who suggested the driver should have received criminal charges, left the meeting in a fury when Village Manager Michael Cassady called for fairness to the driver.

"The other person involved in this life-changing incident has rights, too," Cassady said.

Resident Jeanne Doughty spoke in support of Jakubowski.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I'm tired of victim blaming, because it's easy to do, because she can't defend herself," she said. "That accident would have been any one of us. It just happened to be Joni. Thank God she didn't have a baby on a tandem."

Mayor Arlene Juracek earlier thanked Jakubowski. "We understand that your anguish is very real and we appreciate your sharing it with us," she said.

But she pointed out that Central Road is a state road and any installations were approved by IDOT rules. Indeed, she said it went through the state's approval process.

As for the police report, she said, "As a political body, we cannot insert ourselves into a police investigative matter."

She pointed out that police did not pursue the matter alone, noting that a multijurisdictional accident assessment team was also involved.

The state's attorney and a grand jury and the coroner also joined in the effort.

Juracek said progress has been made at the crossing, including pavement markings and a sign that urges drivers to stop for pedestrians.

Other measures are in the works that require IDOT approval.

Cassady said IDOT has commenced with its speed study and is looking into a full signal.

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