(CHICAGO) — The grieving parents of a 3-year-old girl, who was killed while riding in a Chicago bike lane last year, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit over what they claim were unsafe and illegal road conditions that led to the tragic incident.
Tim Shambrook and Kate Snow were riding their bikes in a designated bike lane to take their daughter, Elizabeth Grace “Lily” Shambrook, to her summer day camp the morning of June 9, 2022, when the deadly incident occurred, according to the law firm representing the family.
A Commonwealth Edison Company utility truck was “illegally parked” in the bike lane at a stop sign, forcing Snow — who was traveling ahead of her husband with Lily in a child seat carrier — to move into the traffic lane between the ComEd truck and a semi-tractor-trailer truck that had stopped at or near the stop sign, according to the lawsuit.
The semi-tractor-trailer allegedly knocked Snow’s bike to the ground and Lily was run over by the rear tires as the driver pulled away from the stop sign, causing “severe personal injuries and her death,” according to the lawsuit.
“Multiple factors converged to make this an unsafe location and intersection on the day this happened,” Richard Burke, a partner of Clifford Law Offices, which is representing the family, told ABC News. “That starts with the fact that Kate Snow — Lily’s mom — was riding in a designated bike lane on what is primarily a residential neighborhood.”
The bike lane was intended for cyclists to travel “with ease and presumably with safety, and so they were doing exactly what they were entitled to be doing on the street,” Burke added.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Cook County, alleges negligence on the part of ComEd; Mondelez International, identified in the complaint as the owner and operator of the semi-tractor trailer truck and Penske Truck Leasing, identified as the employer of the driver of the semi-tractor trailer truck.
The lawsuit also alleges “willful and wanton misconduct” on the part of the city for allegedly failing to properly maintain the bike lane. The family is seeking a trial by jury, with damages undetermined at this stage, Burke said.
ComEd, Mondelez, Penske and the city of Chicago issued statements declining to comment on the lawsuit at this time.
“Our thoughts remain with the family affected by this tragic accident,” ComEd said in a statement. “ComEd has cooperated fully with local authorities, and while we can’t comment on ongoing litigation, our top priority is and always will be the safety of the public and our employees.”
Weeks following Lily’s death, the city announced a plan to add concrete barriers along bike lanes to prevent drivers from entering the designated lanes. In December, the Chicago City Council also passed an ordinance that, among other measures, requires that signs be posted when bike lanes are closed for permitted construction work.
Lily’s parents said the bike lane barriers are “too late for Lily,” and argued that the ordinance is a “first step toward increased safety, but it simply doesn’t go far enough.”
“In her honor, we are forever committed to making Chicago a safer biking community so that her death wasn’t in vain,” Tim Shambrook and Kate Snow said in a statement.
“People have to care. The city has to care. Corporations have to care. They all need to respect bicycle lanes and the bicyclists using them,” they said. “Hopefully, this lawsuit will open the eyes of many because we would never want this tragedy to happen to any other family anywhere.”
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