Charges filed in summertime hit-and-run that left 69-year-old woman dead in Uptown

CHICAGO — Charges have been filed in a hit-and-run crash that fatally injured a 69-year-old woman as she crossed a street in Uptown last summer.

Soyfa Athamanah was walking home when she entered a crosswalk in the 5100 block of North Broadway around 10:30 p.m. on July 25. Family members told the Sun-Times she was returning from a regular visit with friends at a Thai restaurant downtown.

As she crossed Broadway, the driver of a black 2017 Honda Civic slammed into Athamanah, witnesses said.

“I didn’t see brake lights,” said Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere, a Sun-Times photojournalist who happened to be driving behind the Civic. “I saw him swerve and speed up a bit. She then flew into the air.”

Athamanah, who suffered a severe head injury, was pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Chicago police released a stock image of the type of car that hit her, asking anyone with information to contact the department’s major accident investigation unit. The story faded from the headlines and seemed to go cold.

Ricky Hernandez and Soyfa Athamanah (Chicago Police Department, Sax-Tiedemann)

But on Thursday, prosecutors said 31-year-old Ricky Hernandez was the driver who killed Athamanah. They charged him with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, saying he failed to stop, failed to render aid, and failed to report the crash to law enforcement.

CPD officers arrested Hernandez at the Howard CTA station on Tuesday morning. According to his arrest report, he works as a canine security officer for a CTA contractor. He has never been arrested in Illinois before, according to public records.

Judge Barbara Dawkins said he would be released on electronic monitoring during an initial court appearance on Thursday afternoon.

“I cover this stuff a lot for the @Suntimes,” Pasciak LaRiviere tweeted after the crash, “but it’s a different perspective to actually witness it and be a part of the story… I can’t detach myself like I’m normally able to do. I’ve seen a lot of s*** over the years but this might be something that sticks.”

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About Tim Hecke 221 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com