WICKER PARK — It was a horrific scene Sunday near the North Damen Ave entrance to the 606 elevated trail where a massive pileup involving at least 20 pedestrians resulted in over thirty pairs of shoes being scuffed and several suffering from grievous boo boos.
We spoke with one of the casualties about their harrowing experience as they were seated on a bench on a 606 offramp while being treated by a paramedic for what they described as a “non-visible abrasion”.
“It was carnage,” said runner Aubrey Howard, 28. “I was probably 20, 30 meters away when I saw the pileup happening, but at that range there’s really no avoiding it. As a runner, if I have to stop, or go around something, I will literally die.”
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Howard then explained that having to stop, or veer around something can be very calorie-intensive.
“And as everyone knows, expending energy is not the point of running,” continued Howard. “It's about being able to yell ‘on your left’ and experience a fleeting moment of control as tired pedestrians dive out of your way.”
CPD investigators found that the cause of the pileup was a meeting between two friends who happened to see each other while walking in opposite directions and then committed the “thoughtless and criminal act” of stopping to greet each other.
We talked with one of the perpetrators, Nate Gladwell, 30, via phone while he was waiting to be paroled at the Cook County Jail.
“I saw my friend Sarah walking by and since we haven’t seen each other since Covid we went to go hug each other,“ Gladwell recounted tearfully. ”The next thing I know a jogger collided with us at nearly three miles per hour. They went down and it spiraled from there. Please let all of their families know, I’m truly sorry.”
As a result of the pileup, the CPD has temporarily rerouted all 606 traffic into the surrounding thoroughfares until a safety study can be conducted. As of Monday there have been 80 deaths.