DOWNTOWN — The father of bicyclist Blaine Klingenberg has sued the double-decker bus driver who struck and killed his son off the Magnificent Mile two months ago, saying she sped through a red light at the busy intersection before the deadly collision.
Walter Klingenberg charges in the complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court that Charla Henry also failed to "keep an adequate lookout" and was "otherwise careless and negligent" before hitting his son at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.
The complaint, which is backed by four eyewitness accounts, contradicts the initial police report that Klingenberg disobeyed a red light at the corner in one of Chicago's busiest shopping strips.
"That's a common theme we see in a lot of bicycle accidents," said Chicago lawyer Jim Freeman, who's representing the Klingenberg family in the suit.
Klingenberg, 29, of Logan Square, was a bike courier who was well-liked and well-respected in the local bicycling community, Freeman said. Just before his death, Klingenberg posted to Facebook asking if his friends were "down for the lake."
About 200 people came out for a memorial ride Downtown in honor of Klingenberg, according to the Reader.
"Everybody in the community knew the guy," Freeman said. "He had been here a little over a year, but had really become a pillar of the community in some ways."
Sean Hughes, a representative of Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co., which is also a named defendant in the suit, did not immediately return a message requesting comment. The amount Klingenberg seeks in the suit will be determined later, Freeman said.
Police said in June that Klingenberg was riding north on Michigan Avenue on June 15 when he disobeyed a traffic signal and turned left into the bus at Oak Street. He was pinned under the bus and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
Freeman said he found four eyewitnesses who saw the bus run a red light as it crossed Michigan Avenue along Oak. Freeman said he also attempted to retrieve surveillance video from a nearby street camera, but was "stymied" by the city.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Bruce Kohn, the owner of the messenger service where Klingenberg worked, told DNAinfo Chicago in June, said. Klingenberg "was a super social, super nice guy."
A trial date has yet to be set.
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