A 60-year-old appears to have lost consciousness at the wheel before crashing his van into Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., at around 6:50 a.m. on Sunday, July 10.
Authorities found him in critical condition, and he later died. They did not identify him and said on Monday that the accident's circumstances are unknown. The Chicago Police Department Major Accident Investigation Unit and the Cook County Medical Examiner are investigating.
Alex Meyer was walking with his daughter Sunday morning when he saw "a very fast blue and a loud crashing sound, and the bricks falling to the ground."
"I couldn't place it, because when you're looking in that direction, my brain knows that Stony Island dead-ends," he said. "I thought that a truck had topped out on the Metra tracks there. But then I didn't see anything, and I was kind of curious. And so I walked over, and already a couple of people had gotten out of a car on Stony to check on what had happened."
Chicago Public Schools said in a statement Monday that Bret Harte will be closed through Wednesday, July 13, as repairs are made to gas and water lines. It is too early to ascertain timeline and total costs for repairs.
According to the city of Chicago's data portal on traffic crashes, at least three other crashes have occurred at the intersection of 56th Street and Stony Island Avenue since May of this year. In April, the city began construction on Stony Island Ave. just a few blocks south of the crash site, adding new travel lanes going in each direction of the avenue between 59th and 65th streets.