WICKER PARK — A 17-year-old girl severely injured in a hit-and-run at a busy Wicker Park intersection this month is slowly recovering, her family said — but police have yet to arrest someone in the case.
At about 10:30 p.m. Aug. 4, Nakari Campbell was crossing Division Street at Ashland Avenue when the driver of a red Mercedes-Benz hit her.
The driver continued driving west on Division even as Nakari was on top of the car, according to a police crash report and the teen’s family. The driver then drove over Nakari after she fell off the car and dragged her down Division Street before fleeing, the crash report said.
Nakari was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition, where she underwent several surgeries and was temporarily in a medically induced coma, her uncle Anthony Hargrove told Block Club earlier this month.
“They are doing reconstruction for her jaw. She has broken her ribs, her arm, her foot, her leg. She has to have a skin graft. All of her hair has been removed. She has staples in her head,” Hargrove said before a press conference held by Nakari’s family on Aug. 8.
Now, after several weeks in the intensive care unit, Nakari has been moved to a different section of the hospital and is making progress in her recovery, Hargrove and Nakari’s stepmother Starlena Riley said Monday.
The teenager is no longer in a coma and has been alert and speaking, although she has some short-term memory loss, they said.
“She doesn’t quite remember the impact or anything. She obviously looks at her scars and she has some moments where she’s like, ‘Man, I can’t believe this.’ They had to remove all of her front teeth, so that was another thing,” Hargrove said. “Overall she’s healing pretty well. They’re saying it will be a long way to recovery totally, but she’s doing better.”
Hargrove and Riley said they remain frustrated that police have yet to arrest the driver who struck the teenager, even though authorities have identified the owner of the car involved.
The car is a 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350. The four-door sedan has dark-colored rims and tinted windows, according to a police alert issued after the incident. It has a black hood and an Illinois license plate with the tag DC60012.
According to the initial crash report issued the day after the hit-and-run, the owner of the car lives in Belmont Cragin on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
Police visited the owner’s address after the incident, but did not make any arrests, the report said.
Police “attempted to make contact with the registered owner of the vehicle that was on file. The registered owner[‘s] mother answered the door and stated that her son refused to speak with police,” according to the crash report.
The apparent lack of action has infuriated Nakari’s family and friends, who held a press conference with their attorneys urging police to do more to apprehend the driver.
“If you can arrest somebody with a gun out here, discharging that gun, then they can arrest the owner of this car, because that’s a weapon, too,” community activist Andrew Holmes said at the time.
More than two weeks later, a police spokesperson on Monday said there were still no updates in the case and that the hit-and-run remains under investigation.
“We’re still pretty upset there are no arrests,” Riley said Monday. “Now she’s supposed to start school, her senior year, and she can’t even start school because she’s still in the hospital.”
Hargrove said family and supporters have taken matters into their own hands, including hanging up flyers around the Belmont Cragin neighborhood where the owner of the car is listed as living in the police crash report.
“We have to be intentional … that this doesn’t disappear,” Hargrove said. “We won’t stop, we’ll keep pushing, not just for Nakari but to ensure that this doesn’t happen to any other family.”
Nakari’s family has so far not launched any fundraisers to help cover her medical bills and expenses, though they may at some point, Hargrove and Riley said.
Hargrove said they’ve identified at least three fake GoFundMe campaigns attempting to use the tragedy to raise money. A GoFundMe rep said there were no active fundraisers for Nakari or her family on the platform.
While the teenager continues to heal at Stroger Hospital, her family doesn’t have a date or timeline for when she might return to school, Hargrove said. Nakari was getting ready to start her senior year at Legal Prep Charter Academy on the West Side when she was hit.
In the meantime, family members continue to call on the driver who struck Nakari to turn themselves in — and for neighbors to provide additional information to police.
“We’re resilient. We’ll keep working at this and we won’t give up,” Hargrove said. “We won’t disappear.”
Anyone with information about the driver or the incident can contact Chicago Police’s Major Accident Investigation Unit at 312-745-4521. The case’s reference number is RD# JG369828. Anonymous tips can be submitted through cpdtip.com.
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