City driver cited with DUI in Gold Coast wreck

May 23, 2011 4:59:10 AM PDT
A Chicago Streets and Sanitation driver has been cited by police with driving under the influence in a Gold Coast accident Saturday.

Eight people, including a child, were hurt after the truck he was driving crashed into them on a sidewalk.

Matt Smith of the Department of Streets and Sanitation says that they intend to begin termination proceedings against the driver Monday.

Several of those injured remain hospitalized as police continue to investigate the crash. Meanwhile, one of the victim's is telling his story today.

"I put out my hands to do something - block it - and it knocked me back," said Curtis Powell, one of the victims of the crash.

The composer/playwright was walking home Saturday afternoon when he says he heard the squeal of tires and turned around only to see a City of Chicago Streets and Sanitation truck careening toward him.

"I saw the door open up and a gentleman get out from the truck, and then, almost immediately, a bunch of folks were around - we had people here with medical training, and there were a lot of heroes that day," said Powell.

The Gold Coast resident was thrown to the ground. He came away with bruises and nine stitches, evidence of what happened when the pick-up truck plowed into a crowd of people.

Among those in the crowd was a group of models posing for a wedding photo shoot, a 2-year-old girl, and her caregiver, a woman in her 20s, who was in serious condition Sunday after she was pinned under the vehicle Saturday.

"My phone started ringing, but I had a handful of groceries so I didn't answer it until I got upstairs in the apartment," said Scottie Kerta-Wilson, the wife of one of the accident victims. "There was a text from someone saying: hurt... accident - and then I realized what must have happened."

Witnesses say the city worker driving the truck lost control as he made a right turn onto Cedar from northbound State Street.

"It was horrific," said witness Marjorie Lang. "To see that happen in an instant - in a flash." On Sunday, Dwight Washington, 61, was cited with negligent driving, failure to reduce speed, and driving under the influence.

Although he has not been criminally charged, the city worker remains in police custody. Shocked neighbors in his West Side neighborhood remain supportive.

"Any time you hear a tragedy, you know, it's sad, but all I can say is he's a good person," said David Collins.

City officials have not yet confirmed if there were any mechanical problems with the vehicle.

Police have not released the results of the driver's toxicology tests only saying their investigation is ongoing.

The vehicle has been impounded and officials will look at it. Matt Smith says the driver has been employed since June 2006 and was involved in another accident in March 2010.


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