WEST RIDGE — A driver hit and killed a 9-year-old boy Wednesday night in West Ridge.
The driver is a Chicago police officer who was off-duty at the time, police union President John Catanzara told WGN. Police Department spokespeople said they could not immediately confirm that.
The crash occurred about 8 p.m. in the 7200 block of North Sacramento Avenue, police said. The boy — who has been identified as Hershel Weinberger — was riding his bike east on the sidewalk. then a 48-year-old man driving a Toyota north hit Hershel at the intersection of Chase and Sacramento avenues, police said.
Hershel was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where he was pronounced dead.
Catanzara said the officer did not see Hershel before the crash, which he said happened at the back, passenger side of the car. He said the officer was “traumatized.”
On Thursday morning, a GoFundMe was created on behalf of the Weinberger family by Ruth Wait, a family friend, said Rabbi Baruch Epstein, who helped organize the fundraiser. So far, more than $99,000 has been donated.
“The fundraiser is designed as a way for people in the community to participate financially and help this family in a small but significant way,” Epstein said.
The money that’s donated will go toward funeral and memorial services, making up the parents’ lost income and supporting the emotional and mental health of Hershel’s family, Epstein said.
Hershel’s parents, Shamai and Sara Leah Weinberger, could not immediately be reached.
In addition to the GoFundMe, Epstein said the surrounding Rogers Park community has rallied to support the Weinbergers.
“The family is distraught. They’re shocked, sad and confused,” Epstein said. “So the community has come together to help take his siblings to playdates and where they need to go, are bringing them food and helping ensure that all of the traditional Jewish ceremonies are being taken care of.”
Neighbors have also provided emotional support, Epstein said.
“A therapist on the block came and talked to Hershel’s siblings — they saw what happened,” Epstein said. “They’re all traumatized. No one knows what to say.
“It’s such a routine thing for kids to play and ride bikes. How do you explain this to the boy who was playing with him an hour before?”
The driver was issued a citation for “pedestrian in roadway due care,” police said. The incident remains under investigation.
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