CHICAGO — Bicyclists from across the city came together on Saturday afternoon in support of the family of a 16-year-old CPS student who was killed while riding his bike last month. Now a Ghost bike stands in the location where the deadly crash unfolded.
“Every time I see that sun come out, I just feel like it’s him,” said Rogelio Arreola, the step-father of 16-year-old Joshua Anleu, who was killed in the crash.
The warmth and brightness of the sun remind Arreloa of his stepson, who affectionately called him “Rolo.”
According to Arreloa, Joshua, who attended Carl Schurz High School, loved his family and friends and was a role model for his younger brother.
“He was very charismatic, a contagious laugh. Oh my god, when I heard him cracking up, I couldn’t help but laugh with him,” Arreola said.
Joshua also loved to ride his bike. Tragically, he was hit by a car while riding on Oct. 4, at the intersection of West Waveland Avenue and North Long Avenue in Portage Park.
According to Chicago police, a 41-year-old woman, who was driving east around 7:30 p.m., allegedly hit Joshua after stopping at the stop sign.
But Tom Perkowski, who lives nearby, witnessed the crash and said he saw two drivers who did not stop at the stop signs.
“The lady just blew right through the stop sign. She was slowing down for another car that blew a stop sign going north on Long, which Joshua was following behind,” Perkowski said.
Tom rushed to help without hesitation.
“I just ran towards Joshua, slammed to the ground and started screaming at people ‘call 911’ and I just started doing CPR on him,” Perkowski said.
Joshua later died from his injuries at the hospital.
Those who gathered for Saturday’s vigil placed a ghost bike at the crash site to honor Joshua’s life and offer a warning to other cyclists.
“They’re also placed here to urge city officials to, you know, make those locations safer,” Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising, said.
Whitehouse said Joshua is one of three bicyclists killed within several weeks in the Chicago area.
In late October, 59-year-old Don Heggeman was riding in the bike lane in the 5100 block of North Damen Avenue when he was hit.
“Its getting darker earlier, people are still commuting during really dark hours and we need drivers to be on the lookout,” Whitehouse said.
In the midst of heartbreak of losing his step-son, Arreola said he is grateful that someone was there to help Joshua following the crash.
“Just to know there was somebody out there willing to help him in his time of need,” Arreola said. “It also gives us hope that there are still good people out there.”
Police say the driver who allegedly hit Joshua received a ticket for failure to exercise due care to a pedestrian in a roadway. The crash remains under investigation.