Bridgeport Hit-and-Run Victim Was 'Happiest She'd Been in a Long Time'

By Casey Cora on June 18, 2013 6:22am 

BRIDGEPORT — In the local coffee shops where she worked and spent her free time, Carissa Hinz was remembered as a kind soul, a young artist with the type of personality befitting the vibrant arts scene she called home.

A recent graduate of Chicago's American Academy of Art, Hinz, 21, was a fan of cheesy horror movies and mixing crazy cocktails and baking absurd cupcake concoctions and sending friends on dares.

She was planning to spend the summer working at Bridgeport Coffee Company and volunteering for the Co-Prosperity Sphere, an art gallery and community gathering space.

Hinz told friends she was the happiest she’s been in a long time.

Hinz was struck by a speeding, dark-colored four-door car headed south in the 3200 block of Morgan Street about 11 p.m. Friday, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Citing an ongoing investigation, Chicago Police would not comment on the case.

It's unclear if a Chicago Police Department surveillance camera positioned near the intersection captured the accident — neighbors say it hasn't worked for a while.

On Monday, friends and passersby stopped to reflect at the impromptu memorial set up at the intersection of 32nd Place and Morgan Street, a mix of flowers, candles, personal effects and inside jokes: a burned CD copy of Wilco’s "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," some tools of the barista trade and a bottle of Filbert’s soda.

At Jackalope Coffee and Tea House, 755 W. 32nd St. owners John Almonte and January Overton were matching baristas' tips on Monday and Tuesday, then donating the money to Hinz’s family. Later this week, the staff plans to hand over an entire week’s worth of tips.

“She was definitely the type of person who you’d meet and want to get together with,” said Ruby Pinto, a Jackalope barista and former colleague who lived in Hinz’s building in the 3300 block of South Lowe Avenue. “She would make you a drink and give you a hug. She was always the one to say 'OK, let’s smile and do our jobs.'”

Mike Pilkington, owner of Bridgeport Coffee Company, said workers at the coffee house were devastated. They’ll close early on Sunday for a private memorial service nearby.

“All of the kids here were stunned. She was part of our family,” he said. “It’s senseless.”

Through the coffee shop's Facebook page, Hinz's mother released a statement saying she wished to "find the right words to express how it makes me feel that Carissa touched so many lives the way she did.

"I am so happy more people got to see how much my sweet baby girl liked people. No one was ever a stranger to her. She always went to bat for the little guy. I just want to say thank you but it just doesn't seem to be enough."

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call the Chicago Police Department at 312-745-4521.

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