2 Killed When Car Hits Taxi On Near North Side

CHICAGO (CBS) — Two people were killed when a car ran a red light and slammed into a taxi early Wednesday on the Near North Side.

Police said a Hyundai Sonata speeding south on Clark Street blew a red light at Oak Street around 3:15 a.m., smashing into the rear of a City Services taxi cab also headed south on Clark.

Both vehicles spun out and ended up on opposite sides of Clark Street, about 50 feet from the intersection. The drivers of both vehicles were rushed to hospitals, but were pronounced dead on arrival.

Near North Side resident Rick Cass said the sound of the violent collision woke him and his wife, Drenda.

“It was crazy,” Rick Cass said. “We thought at first it was gunfire, but it was just really loud.”

Emergency crews couldn’t tell at first whether there was a passenger in the cab, due to the severe damage from the crash. Police have since confirmed the drivers were the only people in the vehicles.

The cab driver has been identified as 52-year-old Mekonnen Kassa, of the Rogers Park neighborhood. The other driver was identified as 40-year-old Sungde Joof, of the Chatham neighborhood.

mekonnen kassa1 2 Killed When Car Hits Taxi On Near North Side

Mekonnen Kassa (Family Photo)

Kassa’s friends were too distraught to speak on camera, but said just moments before the crash, he had called a friend to say he was bringing him coffee. A lone coffee cup with its contents spilled out laid on Clark Street alongside the mangled taxi.

“It’s a terrible thing that happened. The person that was driving the car at a high rate of speed killed a cab driver that was doing a favor for a friend,” Drenda Cass said.

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