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Family, Friends Honor Beloved Fallen Cyclist In Humboldt Park

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 24, 2017 3:12PM

Photo: Stephen Gossett

More than two-dozen friends, family and members of the Chicago cyclist community gathered Monday evening to honor Jezniah Smith, a 34-year-old man who was fatally struck by a car while riding his bike in Humboldt Park on Wednesday, January 11.

Mourners said prayers, offered remembrances and installed a ghost bike memorial at the corner of Division Street and Sacramento Avenue, the site of the fatal crash.

Ruby Eldefonso, a close family friend and Humboldt Park resident, remembered Jezniah as a “beautiful” gentle soul who rode his bike everywhere. “He was a good friend—like a brother.”

Evangeline Williams, Smith’s aunt, of Austin, was overcome by the memorial ceremony. “It’s really nice,” she told Chicagoist. “It means people really care.”

The tragedy has been difficult to deal, said Jezniah’s uncle Jesse Short, 56, of Austin. “But it’s good everybody came” to the ceremony to honor Jezniah, who was the first cycling fatality of 2017.

Smith’s family only learned of Jezniah’s death five days after the crash, after his mother reached out to the Cook County Medial Examiner’s Office.

The memorial was introduced by Kristen Green, a cycling advocate who also helped direct Jezniah’s family to legal counsel and create a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs. “Every time I put (a ghost bike) up, it’s heartbreaking… You lost a member of your family, but you gained a family,” she said.

Smith was riding his bike westbound on Division Street through an intersection at 10:38 p.m., Wednesday, January 11, when he was hit by a Chevy driving north on Sacramento Avenue, according to police.

Smith’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday against the driver who hit Jezniah, who family and friends described as a very careful cyclist. “We hope to find out exactly what occurred and seek justice on behalf of Jezniah,” Michael Keating, the family’s attorney, told Chicagoist last week.

Photo: Stephen Gossett