Speeding driver who killed UIC student is on parole for aggravated fleeing, prosecutors say

Kenneth Clay in 2019 and Tushar Sharma | CPD; GoFundMe

A man who’s on parole for aggravated fleeing crashed his car while going at twice the speed limit Thursday, killing a UIC student who was walking to class, prosecutors said.

“I didn’t do none of that,” said Kenneth Clay, 31, after an assistant state’s attorney explained how Clay allegedly sped through the school’s campus, ran a red light, collided with a car, struck two UIC students, kept driving, bailed out, ran onto the Dan Ryan Expressway, and eventually hid under a bus at the Chicago Greyhound terminal.

Police said they found $5,309 cash, 17 bags of cannabis, a scale, a vacuum sealer, a loaded handgun, and Clay’s temporary driver’s license in his abandoned car. He was also carrying $1,600 when cops arrested him, prosecutors said.

At 10:24 a.m. Thursday, UIC police tried to pull a speeding gray SUV over after they saw it run a stop sign on Morgan Street. The SUV continued speeding while police followed it with their squad car lights activated.

The speeding car blew a red light at Morgan and Roosevelt, colliding with a white truck that crossed into the intersection, prosecutors said. The speeding SUV spun, hit a light pole, then continued driving northbound on the sidewalk where it struck 27-year-old doctoral candidate Tushar Sharma and another student. 

A “black box” in the crashed SUV indicated it was traveling 63 MPH when it hit the truck, prosecutors said. The local speed limit is 30 MPH.

Prosecutors said the SUV’s driver drove onto the grass, hit a concrete picnic table, crawled out of the driver’s side window, ran past the two downed men, and dashed into a UIC building.

When police approached him inside the building, the driver ran across campus, jumped onto the Dan Ryan Expressway, and made his way to the Greyhound station. Cops arrested Clay after they found him lying under a bus at the terminal, prosecutors said.

Sharma, who suffered head trauma and other injuries, was pronounced dead about 30 minutes after the collision. The other student suffered a broken arm and abrasions to his face and head.

Clay was also treated for injuries at a nearby hospital. Prosecutors said police body cameras captured footage of Clay saying he should not have run from the scene.

Prosecutors charged him with reckless homicide, unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death, aggravated fleeing, possession of cannabis with intent to distribute, aggravated battery, and traffic violations.

According to Illinois Department of Corrections records, he was released from prison on March 30 after serving one year of a two-year sentence that he received for aggravated fleeing causing more than $300 in property damage.

Judge David Navarro ordered him held without bail. IDOC is also considering revocation of his parole.

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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