Driver who fatally struck 9-year-old boy in West Ridge was off-duty cop

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The driver of a pickup truck who fatally struck a 9-year-old boy in West Ridge was an off-duty police officer, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.

Union President John Catanzara said the officer, 48, did not see the boy before he was struck with the Toyota Tundra on the 7300 block of North Sacramento Avenue around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The boy has been identified as Hershel Weinberger.

Police say Hershel was riding his bike on the sidewalk, but a witness and family friends said he was crossing the street when he was hit by the truck.

It appears the vehicle dragged the bike before it came to a stop. Neighbors rushed to help the boy.

Hershel’s parents were outside and heard the crash. His father rushed over and held him.

“At that point he knew his son wasn’t going to make it,” a friend said. “He told me that the connection he felt at that moment with him and his son was just very, very spiritual.”

He was transported to St. Francis Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

While one man at the scene Wednesday night reported that it appeared the driver ran the stop sign, family says they don’t know what happened and police are still investigating the incident. 

Catanzara said the officer took a breathalyzer, which is standard procedure, and it came back negative for any trace of alcohol. 

Catanzara said the officer is “traumatized by this tragic incident.”

Chicago police have not commented. No charges have been filed.

GoFundMe was started to help the boy’s family.

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