A suburban man with an expired license was driving the wrong way in a parking lane at a speed too fast for rainy conditions when he struck and killed a pedestrian in the Loop on Friday evening, prosecutors said.
Jamaal Huffman, 26, was ordered held in lieu of $50,000 bail by Judge David Navarro during a bond court hearing Sunday. The judge also said he cannot drive if he posts the 10% deposit bond necessary to get out of jail.
The victim, identified as 55-year-old Maria Chiqui, was entering the crosswalk at Jackson and Wabash when Huffman allegedly slammed into her with his BMW around 5:20 p.m., according to authorities. Chiqui hit the windshield of Huffman’s car and was thrown across Wabash by the impact, prosecutors said. She suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said.
Huffman pulled over about a block from the crash site and was taken into custody, prosecutors said. Witnesses allegedly identified him and prosecutors said video cameras recorded the collision.
Assistant Public Defender Courtney Smallwood said Huffman has no criminal background and pointed out that there are no allegations that he drank or consumed narcotics before driving.
“This does seem like a tragic accident,” Smallwood said.
After hearing from the attorneys, Judge Navarro recounted the allegations: “Wrong way down Wabash. Parking lane. Per the state’s proffer, too fast for conditions. On the date in question, it’s raining.”
“The victim [who] was crossing the street would have no reason to look the other way, the wrong way, to look for a car,” Navarro continued. “She was struck and killed.”
Navarro said the charge against Huffman, reckless homicide with a motor vehicle, can result in a sentence of probation upon conviction.
Earlier this month, a 29-year-old man with no criminal background who allegedly struck and killed a 93-year-old woman while driving in Edgewater received 30 months probation when he pleaded guilty to a similar charge.
A woman who recently pleaded guilty to striking a bicyclist in River North, leaving him with serious injuries, received four years probation.