Man charged in cab crash that killed pedestrian

September 11, 2012 10:36:46 AM PDT
A 60-year-old cab driver from Uptown has been charged after a pedestrian was killed last month when a taxi crashed near the intersection of Ogden, Milwaukee and Chicago avenues on the city's Near West Side.

The cab struck a pole at Chicago and Milwaukee, flipped over, and burst into flames around 6 a.m. August 14. A pedestrian sitting at a bus stop, 31-year-old Eric Kerestes, was struck and killed.

John A. Kesse, of the 4500-block of North Clarendon, was charged this week with reckless homicide. Kesse was taken into custody Monday morning at his traffic court hearing.

A passerby was able to rescue the passenger in the taxi. The cabbie was also injured.

All signs pointed to a violent collision: Debris from the crash was scattered for several dozen yards. A light pole was knocked down inside a CVS parking lot and the bus stop bench was destroyed.

A fire official at the scene said the cab may have been going as fast as 100 mph and that that passenger warned the driver to slow down moments before the collision.

Police say the cab was heading southeast on Milwaukee Avenue when it hit a light pole, flipped over several times and then struck Kerestes. Police say he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kerestes, who was married, was studying for an MBA and working as an engineer at a construction company.

Kesse and his passenger were both taken to hospitals in serious to critical condition.

Some of the witnesses said they ran to help.

"The passenger got out of the car. The car was on fire, so a couple of us helped the guy, and helped the cabbie out," said witness Dan Faraci. "The fire department was here within a couple minutes."

"I think this is tragic," said witness Yamile Cruz. "I don't think he deserves to die that way, and I think that we do have problems always with cabs, the way they drive around here, they're flying."

Crews remained on the scene to clean up and collect evidence for hours after the crash.

The cab driver has been licensed since 1987 and has no red flags when it comes to complaints or moving violations, city officials said.

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