Updated 02/04/15 – 11:11 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A police officer driving an unmarked squad car struck and killed a pedestrian early Wednesday on a street with no working street lights in the South Chicago neighborhood.
The Major Accidents Investigation Unit was on the scene at 79th Street and Burnham Avenue, where street lights are out for several blocks in the area, raising questions about whether the officer could see the 60-year-old man he struck.
The officer was driving east in the 2800 block of East 79th Street around 1:15 a.m., when he struck the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The victim’s identity has not yet been released.
Neighbors said street lights were out on a four- or five-block stretch of 79th Street for about a week.
“It’s so dark. You’ve got to fear for your life out here,” local resident Billy Goudy said. “What if you’re walking with your kids, then somebody just jumps out?”
Shortly after 6 a.m., a Chicago Department of Transportation crew showed up, flipped a circuit breaker switch, and turned on the lights that had been out on the block where the victim was hit.
CBS 2 called the Chicago Department of Transportation to ask why, if all that was required to fix the lights on 79th street was to flip a switch, why wasn’t it done sooner? CDOT had not answered that question as of 11 a.m.
Whatever the reason the street lights were out, Goudy said there is no reason someone should die because they weren’t working.
“Cars are supposed to have their headlights on, so there’s no reason for that to happen That’s was just ridiculous, and that was carelessness,” Goudy said.
A neighbor said he’s seen unmarked cars driving around the neighborhood with their headlights off at night, but it was unclear if the police car involved had its headlights on when the pedestrian was struck.