2 killed in Gold Coast crash identified; speeding car slammed into taxi

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A horrific early morning crash killed an innocent taxi-driver Wednesday, after police said a speeding car blew a red light, striking the cab.

A horrific early morning crash killed an innocent taxi-driver Wednesday, after police said a speeding car blew a red light, striking the cab in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood.

The driver of the speeding Hyundai Sonata has also died as a result of the crash.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the deceased as Mekonnen Kassa, 52, and Sungde Joof, 40. They both lived in Chicago. Kassa was driving the taxi. Joof was behind the wheel of the Hyundai.

Mekonnen Kassa.



An outpouring of grief from friends of Mekonnen Kassa on Wednesday afternoon.

"It's very sad to lose a brother like him," said Nabulus Chaleyalew, Kassa's friend. "He was very humble, caring, very selfless."

He had just started his shift at 3 a.m., and was heading southbound in the 1000-block of North Clark Street when a Hyundai Sonata, also traveling southbound on Clark at a high rate of speed, failed to stop at a red light and rear ended the taxi.

Both Kassa and the Sonata's driver were killed.

Kassa, originally from Ethiopia, was part of a tight-knit Ethiopian community. Many members gathered at the Rogers Park apartment he shared with his wife.

So many mourners were coming by that they decided to congregate at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jefferson Park.

"I just heard, I came immediately. I was in shock," said Tadesse Debebe, a friend of Kassa.

Kassa moved to Chicago in 2006 and had been a driver for City Services Taxi.

"Very, very hard working guy. Very hard working guy," said Mohammad Kamran with City Services Taxi. The company has pledged financial help to Kassa's family.

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A horrific early morning crash killed an innocent taxi-driver Wednesday, after police said a speeding car blew a red light, striking the cab.


Sungde Joof was heading south in the 1000-block of North Clark Street at a high rate of speed when he ran a red light around 3:15 a.m. and rear-ended the cab at the intersection of Oak and Clark, police said. It is still unclear how fast the Hyundai was traveling at the time of the crash.

The back end of Kassa's taxi was destroyed. There were no passengers inside. The front end of the Hyundai, which had Florida license plates, also sustained damage.
Kassa was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died. Joof was transported to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he also died.

No one else was hurt. Major Accidents is investigating.

Clark was closed between West Maple and West Walton streets. West Oak Street was closed between North LaSalle Drive and North Dearborn Street. CTA No. 22 Clark Street buses were detoured around the crash site. The area reopened around 7 a.m.

Related Topics:
taxicab driverscar crashman killedspeedingChicagoGold Coast
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