By Jason Meisner, Andrew L. Wang and Dawn Rhodes
5:25 PM CDT, May 23, 2011
The father of a toddler who was injured Saturday afternoon when a drunk city worker drove into a crowd of pedestrians called the girl's caretaker "an angel on this earth" for pushing the girl out of the way.
The toddler's father, Hugh Jones, filed a lawsuit against the city today after the accident left his daughter Tyler Jones injured as well as the girl's caretaker Jennifer Anton.
“If she didn’t do what she did, my daughter Tyler wouldn’t be alive today,” said Jones of Anton in a press conference at his attorney’s office. “It’s an incredible testament to what humans do if they’re good people.”
Jones said that after Anton, 25, was struck, she managed to tell someone on the scene to check her phone and find the phone number for Tyler’s mother. Jones also praised the emergency officials and hospital staff who took care of Tyler and Anton.
“There are some terrific people in the city,” he said. “Apparently, there’s one evil one.”
In court today, prosecutors said the Chicago Streets and Sanitation worker, Dwight Washington had a blood-alcohol level of 0.183 percent. Police found a half-empty bottle of E&J Brandy in the truck after the accident.
Washington, 61, of the 1800 block of North Linder Avenue, was charged with aggravated driving under the influence, causing bodily harm and misdemeanor DUI. He was also ticketed for transporting and carrying alcohol, failure to reduce speed and negligent driving, police said.
In addition to the criminal charges, attorneys representing a 25-year-old woman seriously hurt in the crash and the 20-month-old girl in her care lodged a pair of civil suits today against Washington and the city.
The suits, which were filed this morning by the firm Corboy & Demetrio, say the toddler was being pushed in a stroller by her nanny Jennifer Anton when the truck hit them near the corner of Rush and Cedar Streets.
Tyler escaped serious injury and was seen in the arms of a Chicago firefighter after the crash. Anton, however, suffered a broken pelvis and several fractures to her legs, according to authorities. She remained in critical condition today.
On Saturday afternoon, Washington had been assigned to empty city-owned trash receptacles around the Near North Side when he lost control of his Ford F-150 pickup truck.
The truck accelerated over a curb and crashed into a crowd, including several on the sidewalk who were conducting a commercial photo shoot depicting a wedding party, prosecutors said.
Anton, the nanny, was able to push the child out of the way before being struck, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said.
“Basically all the bones below her waist are shattered,” Scaduto said of the caretaker.
Another victim was listed in critical condition with brain trauma and fractures to the face and vertebrae, Scaduto said. Four others were in the hospital with injuries that were not considered life threatening, while the seventh victim had been treated and released, she said.
Washington had a valid driver’s license and no history of traffic infractions, Scaduto said.
His court-appointed attorney said Washington is a Vietnam veteran who has worked for Streets and Sanitation since 2006.
Washington was also convicted in 1974 of armed robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison, according to records. It was unclear how much time he served.
His bond was set at $400,000 by Criminal Court Judge Laura Sullivan.