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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

West Loop Community Leader Badly Hurt In Hit-And-Run At Dangerous Intersection: ‘This Is Absolutely Devastating’

West Loop neighbors are rallying around May Toy and are calling on city officials to protect pedestrians walking to and from the Racine Blue Line station.

Skinner Park Advisor Council President May Toy was seriously injured while walking to the Blue Line Racine station in the 1200 block of West Van Buren Street, when a driver hit her then fled the scene Sunday night.
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WEST LOOP — A neighborhood leader is facing a long recovery after a driver injured her in a hit-and-run over the weekend in the West Loop, friends and colleagues said.

A driver hit longtime community advocate May Toy on Sunday night in the 1200 block of West Van Buren Street, police said.

Judy Nelson, a member of the Skinner Park Advisory Council with Toy, said the driver hit Toy “so hard she flew up in the air and lost her shoes.”

May’s hip is broken, her heart is bruised and she has bruises on her left side, Nelson said. She is being treated at Stroger Hospital, where doctors said she is looking at a three-month recovery.

Credit: Neighbors of West Loop/ Facebook
May Toy (center) partnering with Whole Foods in West Loop to raise money for the Skinner Park in 2015.

“She is in a tremendous amount of pain,” Nelson said. “It’s very, very, very, very, sad.”   

Toy has lived in the neighborhood for decades. She is president of the Skinner Park Advisory Council, which has lobbied West Loop aldermen for a new field house in the West Loop park.

She also serves on the board of directors of Neighbors of West Loop.

Nikki Kanter, a member of Neighbors of West Loop, said Toy has committed a lot of time to make the park accessible to families in the West Loop and on the Near West Side.

“May Toy has been such a dedicated advocate to this community and for green space for decades,” Kanter said. “May has worked hard to make Skinner Park accessible to a wide diverse group of people.”

West Loop residents are rallying to find ways to support Toy and her family, Nelson said. A GoFundMe to cover her recovery costs has already raised more than $10,000.

“The West Loop calvary is lined up and ready to help,” Nelson said.

The Van Buren and Racine intersection long has worried residents. During community meetings, groups like Neighbors of West Loop have raised concerns about pedestrian safety along Van Buren, especially as more developments are approved and more traffic comes to the neighborhood.

“Van Buren is not a safe pedestrian street, and it’s unacceptable. We have pedestrians crossing from the Racine Blue Line stop, carrying groceries from Target, and families trying to access Skinner Park,” Kanter said. “It’s a nightmare. This intersection has become a pressure point. … People are fixated on getting to the interstate; they don’t care if it’s a red light.”

Nelson, who lives near the intersection, said the area is “scary” for pedestrians to cross.

“We could have lost May,” Nelson said. “That intersection is going to take someone’s life. We need to do something about it immediately.”

Neighbors are urging city officials to add safety features like a light at the ramp to prevent drivers from speeding to the Eisenhower, Kanter said. Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) previously requested the Chicago Department of Transportation conduct traffic studies along Van Buren and Sangamon.

After the hit and run, he will also ask CDOT to review Van Buren and Racine, he said.

“It adds to the urgency around the danger that pedestrians face as they walk through the area,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “May’s given so much of her energy to our community, and for this to happen in return is absolutely devastating.”

No one is in custody in the hit-and-run. Police are investigating.

Credit: Google Maps.
Skinner Park Advisory Council President May Toy was seriously injured while walking to the Blue Line Racine station in the 1200 block of West Van Buren Street when a driver hit her then fled the scene Sunday night.

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