LAKEVIEW — A party bus driver rammed into 18 cars Saturday afternoon while driving along a busy stretch of Broadway near Market Days, officials said.
The driver, 45-year-old Gregory Baldwin, appeared in bond court Tuesday facing several misdemeanor charges, including reckless driving, leaving the scene, failing to reduce speed and disregarding traffic control. He also faces a felony count of criminal damage to government property over $500.
Judge Charles S. Beach set Baldwin’s bond at $40,000, citing the danger his driving posed to the community given its location and proximity to Market Days, an annual street festival that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Northalsted.
Baldwin was driving the party bus northbound about 2:55 p.m. through “heavy traffic” in the 3500 block of North Broadway when the incident happened, said Assistant State’s Attorney Steven Haamid.
A witness tried telling Baldwin to stop, given the “many other cars traveling on Broadway,” but Baldwin continued, striking an ambulance that was heading south on Broadway, Haamid said. The ambulance was occupied by an EMT who identified Baldwin as the driver after his arrest.
The ambulance, which had its lights flashing and was sounding its horn, suffered damage to its front-passenger fender and passenger side, Haamid said. No one was in the ambulance being treated at the time.
After striking the ambulance, Baldwin continued driving forward at a slow rate of speed, crashing into a car just north of the ambulance, Haamid said. Baldwin continued north on Broadway and turned right to head east toward Recreation Drive, swiping more than a dozen other cars along the way.
“During this incident, there were witnesses traveling to and from the Market Days event, some of whom actually viewed their vehicle being struck by the defendant,” Haamid said.
Baldwin finally stopped near the 3600 block of Recreation Drive, where officers approached the party bus and arrested him, Haamid said.
“Look out!” witnesses can be heard yelling as the party bus sideswipes oncoming traffic before turning right toward Recreation Drive.
Baldwin’s defense attorney, Joe Venditti, said he’s a lifelong resident of Valparaiso, Ind., and requested either an I-Bond or a $10,000 D-Bond for his release. Baldwin currently lives with his mother and is saving money to buy his own place, Venditti. He did not comment on why the crash occurred.
Representatives for Ald. James Cappleman (46th), whose ward encompasses that portion of Lakeview, did not return requests for comment.
Bennett Lawson, chief of staff to Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes the nearby Market Days footprint, said issues with party buses are rare in Lakeview.
“The Cubs have locations for staging and Clark Street doesn’t see high numbers [of party buses] on weekends,” Lawson said. “We have followed Ald. Reilly’s lead when it comes to additional regulations as River North seems to attract the most.”
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