BRIDGEPORT — Bridgeport is grieving the death of an aspiring young artist and coffee shop "sweetheart" killed in a hit-and-run accident late Friday.
Carissa Hinz, 21, was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident near the intersection 32nd Place and Morgan Street at about 11 p.m. while taking out the garbage from a local gallery where she volunteered, sources said.
Witnesses told police a dark-colored four-door vehicle, possibly a Honda Accord, struck Hinz as she was crossing the street. The impact sent her about 100 feet and “when she landed it was on the rear windshield of a parked car,” said police spokesman Officer Veejay Zala.
On Saturday, as the neighborhood art fair Hinz helped prepare for was winding down, small groups of people circulated between the gallery, coffee shop and Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar at the corner of 31st Street and Morgan, most talking about the tragedy from the night before.
"She was just a sweetheart," said Rob Hodges, a local carpenter. "She was a light, like a lightbulb to a moth, a good person."
Hinz was a graduate of the American Academy of Art, where she studied graphic design and photography.
She was a frequent volunteer at the Co-Prosperity Sphere, the art gallery at 3219 S. Morgan St. where the "Urban Operating System" exhibition — part of the kickoff celebration for the weeklong community gathering called Version Fest — was under way Friday. That's where she spent the evening, according to a post on her Facebook profile.
An email circulated by the Bridgeport Citizens Group, a volunteer crime watch organization, said Hinz was helping clean up when the accident happened.
According to their email, Hinz's mother said Carissa "was very happy to live in Chicago and Bridgeport" and that mom was "she was a part of such a supportive community.
Organizers of the Version Fest canceled Saturday's scheduled party at the gallery.
Hinz had worked just up the street at Bridgeport Coffee Company for about a year. The coffee shop at 3101 S. Morgan St. released a statement Saturday mourning the loss.
“Our deepest heartfelt sympathies go out to her family and friends. She was an artistic soul with a generous heart, and was beloved by neighbors, customers and her co-workers…Carissa had been a barista at Bridgeport Coffee for over a year. There are no words that can convey how her family and friends feel, but we want them to know that we were graced by her presence and we will always remember her."