LOGAN SQUARE — In a matter of seconds, a routine bike ride to work turned life-altering for 28-year-old Marguerite Wynter.
Wynter was riding a Divvy bike Monday to her job at the Museum of Contemporary Art, as she often does, when she said a pickup truck driver hit her. She was rushed to the hospital, where she had brain surgery after doctors discovered she was bleeding from her brain.
As Wynter recovers at home, she and her family are asking witnesses to come forward to help them piece together what happened. Because of her serious head injuries, Wynter doesn’t remember much.
They’d also like to thank the neighbors who came to Wynter’s aid and called 911.
“It’s a heroic act to take action and dial a number that saved her life,” said Ann Phelan, Wynter’s mother.
On Monday afternoon, Wynter left her Logan Square apartment and picked up a Divvy bike near the Logan Square Blue Line station to head to work. She’s been working from home due to the pandemic, but she needed to go in that day.
Wynter only rode for a few seconds through the Logan Square traffic circle and toward Milwaukee Avenue when a truck “came out of nowhere” at Kedzie Avenue and Logan Boulevard — near Lula Cafe — and suddenly she was unconscious.
“That’s really all I remember. The next thing I knew I was in an ambulance and I thought I was dreaming,” Wynter said.
According to the police report and a police spokesman, the driver of a Ford F150 truck was going south when, just after 3:30 p.m., he “heard a noise on the right side of his truck,” he told officers. The driver “immediately pulled over” and discovered Wynter on the ground. He told police he did not know whether he hit her.
Wynter “seemed very confused” and could not tell responding officers what happened, according to the report.
Attempts to reach the pickup truck driver were unsuccessful Friday. Police could not immediately answer additional questions about the incident.
Wynter, who was not wearing a helmet, does not remember getting hit. She suffered a concussion on top of other injuries. But she believes the pickup truck driver hit her.
“This car was going to go down Kedzie and completely must have not seen me and hit me. That’s the way I understand it. I didn’t see anything coming,” Wynter said.
“I can’t be 100 percent because my memory of the accident is completely gone, but I really do think it was a collision. I don’t think I had already fallen.”
‘I Thought, OK, She’s Dead’
Wynter spent three days at Illinois Masonic Medical Center. She suffered a fractured skull and damage to her temporal lobe. Doctors later discovered she was bleeding from her brain and rushed her into emergency surgery.
“Every time I got a call from Illinois Masonic I thought, ‘OK, she’s dead. My mom is quite elderly, and if I tell my mom then she’s going to die, so I’m going to have a double funeral,'” Phelan said.
But the surgery went as well as it could’ve gone, and Wynter is back home recovering, much to the relief of her family.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster. It’s just a lot of emotional trauma related to this,” Phelan said. “Seeing her hair gone, seeing the scar, the pain she’s in — she’s in excruciating pain. The violation of being in your space and having that intrusive experience. …”
The road to a full recovery is long. Wynter is being evaluated for physical and speech therapy. Her employer, the Museum of Contemporary Art, told her to take as much time as she needs to heal.
“It’s just going to take a lot of time for my swelling to go back to normal. I’m very slow right now. I have a huge scar on my head. … I’m just very thankful that nothing happened to my brain,” Wynter said.
“Obviously it’s very nerve-wracking to get surgeries like this. I’m not one that’s been in the hospital in my life at all. It was just very overwhelming.”
‘I’d Love To Just Know What Happened’
Wynter was hit in the notoriously confusing and dangerous Logan Square traffic circle, which has been the subject of resident complaints for years.
The circle saw 121 crashes 2011-2015, according to Chicago Department of Transportation data. In 2016 alone, the circle saw 34 crashes, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The data only includes reported crashes and not the many near-misses seen daily in the area.
After years of planning, the city will soon give the intersection a complete overhaul and will re-route traffic to make it safer for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. Construction is expected to begin in the spring.
Wynter, who is from Massachusetts but has lived in Chicago for three years, said she’s ridden a Divvy bike through the circle many times and has never had a problem until Monday.
“I understand rotaries are very scary and maybe some people don’t know how to drive on them. I’ve never really experienced this, why cars wouldn’t slow down,” she said.
In Wynter’s case, it’s unclear who was at fault. In their report, police did not explicitly say the pickup truck driver hit Wynter; just that he heard a noise on the right side of his truck and found Wynter on the ground. Asked about the status of the investigation, police spokesman Anthony Spicuzza said he could not provide any further information.
Moving forward, Wynter and her mother are hoping to connect with the neighbors who witnessed the crash so they can determine what steps to take. If there is sufficient evidence that supports Wynter’s story, the family may take legal action against the driver.
“I’d love to just know what happened,” Wynter said. “I just need to really move forward from this, but it would be nice to know what happened. I don’t remember anything.”
Phelan posted about Wynter’s crash on a neighborhood Facebook page and a few neighbors commented that they either called 911 or helped in some regard during the aftermath. Phelan said she’d also like to personally thank those neighbors.
“She has this amazing connection to Logan Square. She feels part of the community,” Phelan said. “We just love Logan Square and I’m so grateful that people in the community came to help her.”
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.