CHICAGO — Police are searching for the driver of a vehicle that struck and critically injured 26-year-old avid cyclist Ricardo "Richie" Capistrano in Logan Square on Friday.
Riding a motorized bicycle he built, Capistrano was returning home from a store after exchanging a pair of shoes for his son, who was flying to Mexico the next morning to spend the Easter holiday with his grandparents who live there, according to Capistrano's brother, Hector.
Police say it was a dark-colored 4-door GMC or Chevrolet SUV traveling east on North Avenue that cut Capistrano off as it turned onto Talman Avenue heading northbound. The SUV didn't stop, but continued north until hanging a right on the next stop sign. The SUV is described by police as having a shattered back passenger window and damage to the rear passenger door.
Capistrano's family is searching for the driver responsible by offering up to a $1,000 reward for any information leading up to an arrest.
"They have faith he is going to turn himself in," Capistrano said.
Hector Capistrano said his family has been in turmoil ever since the hit-and-run left his youngest brother, the "baby of the family," under heavy sedation at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital.
“It’s brutal, even just looking at him in the bed like that now,” Capistrano said. “Trying to figure out what he’s thinking or where his mind is. We look at him and we wonder what’s going on and how he’s gonna come out of this.”
Capistrano said when his little brother initially arrived at the hospital, doctors feared there was swelling in his brain and administered heavy doses of pain medication to keep him unconscious so his brain could rest. Although Capistrano has regained consciousness, his family was told not to speak or try to communicate with him in the meantime to minimize any emotional stress responses he may have. Doctors have since discovered that while his brain did not swell, it did begin to fill with blood and has since been draining through a tube, Capistrano said.
According to Capistrano, doctors are waiting to begin lowering his dosage of medication in efforts to wake him up. They are communicating with him through hand gestures as a means to test any potential damage to his brain, but are waiting to remove his brain tube or perform X-rays until they are satisfied with his responses.
If all goes well, Capistrano's decrease in medication will continue until he wakes up. Doctors will then be able to further assess the extent of his injuries.
“He’s a big fighter, he’s not a person who just likes to sit around,” Capistrano said. “We know he’s gonna pull through. Our biggest concern is that his brain is OK, it was a big head impact."
Among other injuries, Richie Capistrano suffered a punctured lung, which his brother Hector said is also filled with fluid that doctors are draining. Police said the hit-and-run critically injured Capistrano.
Hector Capistrano said his family found out about the incident nearly three hours after it happened, which led to mass confusion. Because Richie Capistrano did not have his ID with him at the time of the accident, emergency responders initially noted him as a "John Doe." After someone called his phone and paramedics answered, that person alerted family.
Hector Capistrano described his little brother's relationship with motorized bikes as "his passion" — an activity he loved and excelled in. He said his brother often built his own and enjoyed riding around town. He said the fact the bike had a motor also explained why the impact and damage was so great.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Major Accident Investigations Unit at 312-745-4521.
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