This story includes a graphic video.
WICKER PARK — The car that struck and severely injured a teenager at a Wicker Park intersection in early August before fleeing the scene was involved in another hit-and-run the same night just blocks away, according to two lawsuits filed this month in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Video and images released by police also appear to show the same car was involved in the separate incidents, which took place within minutes of each other.
Around 10:30 p.m. Aug. 4, 17-year-old Nakari Campbell was crossing Division Street at Ashland Avenue when the driver of a red Mercedes-Benz hit her, police said.
The driver continued 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 suffered extensive injuries and spent weeks in the intensive care unit at Stroger Hospital. She’s since been making progress in her recovery and is alert and out of the ICU, family told Block Club last week.
The hit-and-run has garnered media attention since Nakari’s family and their attorneys held a press conference this month demanding justice for the teen. Three weeks after the crash, no arrests have been made and the incident remains under investigation, a police spokesperson said Friday.
The same night Nakari was hit at Ashland and Division, a 26-year-old woman was struck in a hit-and-run just a few blocks away in West Town — an incident a lawsuit filed by the victim alleges was caused by someone driving the same car.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. Aug. 4., according to a police crash report, Chloe Engel was getting out of a minivan on the 1400 block of West Augusta Boulevard when a driver crashed into her. Video provided by Engel’s attorney Robert Walsh shows the driver keeps going as Engel is thrown to ground and her companions rush to help her.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
Engel was taken to Stroger Hospital with multiple broken bones and lacerations, according to the crash report. She has since left the hospital and returned to her out of state home.
“She has multiple facial fractures and still recovering with significant injuries, but should make a decent recovery,” Walsh said. “We’re optimistic that she’ll continue to do so.”
The car in the video is a red sedan with a black hood and tinted windows, matching part of the description of the Mercedes that struck Nakari. The make, model and license plate of the car are not visible in the video.
According to information released by police, the car that struck Nakari at Ashland and Division is a red 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.
A police spokesperson declined to confirm if detectives believe the two incidents were linked. Neither have led to any arrests and both remain under investigation.
“If detectives determine a link or establish a pattern, they will create a Community Alert, which our office will disseminate at that time. We cannot comment on specifics of open investigations,” spokesperson Kellie Bartoli said in an email Friday.
While police continue to investigate, both Engel and Nakari Campbell’s families have filed civil lawsuits against the same man who owns the car that they allege hit them both.
In both lawsuits, the defendant’s name matches the one listed for the car’s owner on the police crash report for Nakari’s hit-and-run, as well as the same Belmont Cragin address.
Block Club is not naming the person, as he has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Attempts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful.
While both lawsuits are similar in detail, Engel’s suit alleges the man both owned the car and was driving it when Engel was hit Aug. 4. Nakari’s suit alleges the man owned the car but doesn’t specify if he was driving, instead referring only to “an unknown driver.”
Walsh said they filed the suit last week after learning more details about Nakari’s case and piecing together the similarities. He said Engel’s civil case is still at the beginning of a long process that should unearth more details about the incident.
Since news broke of the hit-and-run that injured Nakari in early August, her family members, friends and neighbors have demanded action from authorities as to why no criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the car or its owner.
According to the initial crash report issued the day after the hit-and-run, police visited the car owner’s home in Belmont Cragin after the incident, but did not make any arrests.
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.
CPD spokespeople did not answer questions submitted Friday about why officers did not question the owner, or what has led to possible delays in making an arrest.
Nakari’s family told Block Club last week they remain frustrated with the lack of arrests, but refuse to let police and neighbors forget about what happened to the 17-year-old, who still has a long road to fully recovering from her numerous injuries.
“We’re still pretty upset there are no arrests,” her stepmother Starlena 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.”
“We’re resilient. We’ll keep working at this and we won’t give up,” Nakari’s uncle Anthony Hargrove added. “We won’t disappear.”
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