Loop: Man charged with hit-and-run bus shelter crash that left woman seriously injrued

Allen Espino (inset) and a screengrab of the truck moments before impact from video taken by Marissa Parra of CBS2. | Cook County Sheriff; Marissa Parra

Prosecutors on Saturday charged a man with driving a pick-up truck into a Loop bus shelter during the Mexican Independence Day celebration last month and leaving the scene as a 61-year-old woman lay critically wounded at the scene. The victim remains hospitalized.

Allen Espino, 29, was allegedly smoking pot and driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash, but two relatives who were riding with him told police about what happened. And the truck’s owner also called cops after he recognized his vehicle in news footage of the crash. 

Marissa Parra of CBS2 tweeted a video of the crash moments after it happened.

A man who lives near the scene inadvertently captured the crash on video from overhead. He also shared the video on Twitter.

On September 11, Espino borrowed a friend’s apple red pick-up truck, but he refused to return the vehicle when its owner asked to get it back the next day, prosecutors said. Then, on September 15, Espino drove the truck downtown to celebrate in Mexican Independence Day festivities with his two cousins in the truck bed. 

He began driving erratically, making U-turns, speeding, jumping onto curbs and medians several times, and doing donuts in the street, prosecutors said. His two cousins later told police Epsino had been drinking and smoking pot during the celebration.

Around 11:45 p.m., the cousins decided to get out of the truck because of Espino’s reckless driving, according to prosecutors. The truck was smoking when they hopped out on the 1100 block of South Michigan. Espino pulled another U-turn, and the truck’s back door fell off.

Prosecutors said Espino got out of the truck, smoked a joint, then got back into the vehicle and accelerated down Michigan Avenue. Within seconds, the truck veered into a bus shelter where the victim was seated. He then backed out and fled the scene, prosecutors said.

The woman suffered significant injuries, including a shattered femur. Witnesses used a Mexican flag as an emergency tourniquet to stem her blood loss, a photojournalist for Captured News reported. 

Surgeons tried to use skin and muscle from the woman’s back to rebuild her legs, but the wounds became infected, and she remains hospitalized, according to prosecutors. 

The day after the crash, the truck’s owner contacted police after seeing the crash on a TV newscast. Both cousins also contacted authorities. Espino surrendered to police on Thursday.

Prosecutors said he has a 2014 DUI conviction and a pending DUI in the suburbs. His driver’s license is suspended due to the suburban case.

Espino is now charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing injury or death in the September crash. Judge Susana Ortiz set his bail at $100,000 and ordered him to go onto electronic monitoring if he can post a 10% deposit bond. She also ordered him not to drive.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com