Austin woman dies in Oak Park crash

Chicago man accused of reckless homicide and aggravated DUI

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Police Department have charged a Chicago man with one count of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated driving under the influence in connection with a car crash earlier this month that left one person dead and another seriously injured.

Police announced March 11 that they have charged Kendall R. Harrison, 25, of the 1300 block of North Washtenaw Avenue, Chicago. He remains in custody and will appear at a bond hearing on March 12 at the Maybrook courthouse in Maywood.

Harrison was taken into custody on Saturday, March 9, after crashing an SUV into a vehicle driven by Austin resident Joy Tyus at about 10:30 p.m. near the intersection of South Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue.

Tyus, 28, was a lifelong resident of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, according to a relative.

She and her boyfriend, Pierre Shelton, 30, were headed from Austin to her uncle's house in Berwyn, when they were broadsided at the intersection of South Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue by an SUV allegedly fleeing Oak Park police.

Tyus and Shelton were taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where Tyus, the driver, was pronounced dead. Shelton sustained multiple fractures and was placed on life support.

Oak Park police said in a press release that Harrison was taken into custody shortly after the crash. Police noted that the officer "had not initiated a chase when the SUV struck the sedan."

Harrison was driving an SUV westbound on South Boulevard when he was pulled over by police at about 10:30 p.m. near South Boulevard and Humphrey Avenue. Police did not say why the man was stopped by a patrol officer.

As the officer approached the vehicle, Harrison reportedly sped away and ran a red light at the corner of South and Ridgeland, striking the four-door sedan driven by Tyus that was headed south on Ridgeland.

Tyus' vehicle appears to have collided with the stoplight pole at the southwest corner of the intersection and came to rest adjacent to Pieritz Brothers Inc., 401 South Blvd., an office supply business.

By Monday morning, March 11, loved ones had created a makeshift memorial on a utility box outside the business, featuring balloons, stuffed animals and messages to Tyus.

"Love you, Joy. Until we meet again" and "I will miss you so much" were among the messages written on a sign at the memorial.

Tyus' cousin, Tonya Gary, was at the memorial Monday morning with loved one Lonzell Moore, who left messages for Tyus.

Gary tearfully described Tyus as "a loving person" and "down to earth." She said Tyus was traveling from Austin to a gathering at Gary's father's house in Berwyn on the night of the accident.

The family was not notified about the accident until the early morning of March 10, she said.

Bernita Brown, Tyus' aunt, said in a telephone interview that Tyus had just recently graduated from the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, where she majored in journalism. She also had completed an internship at WGCI-FM radio.

"She was quiet, she was very smart and she was kind and willing to help anyone who needed help," Brown said, adding that Tyus helped out as a caretaker for her grandmother.

Shelton, also an Austin resident, is still in critical condition at Loyola, according to his sister, Gabrielle Riley. She said he is in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator. Riley said he is suffering from multiple fractures and internal bleeding.

"The swelling is decreasing, but everything is moving at a slow process; it's a waiting game to see what's going to happen," she said.

Shelton's younger brother and roommate, Deandre Hampton, said Shelton is a warehouse worker who operates a forklift.

"He's a warm-hearted loving person and a father," he said. 

The collision resulted in considerable damage to the storefront windows of Pieritz Brothers. Several windows were boarded up following the incident.

Deborah Pieritz, co-owner of the business, said glass was everywhere in the storefront, but neither of the vehicles appears to have directly struck with the structure.

Pieritz said she was called out last Saturday night after the wreck and saw that the driver's side of the victim's vehicle was completely destroyed.

"There were car parts all over the place," she said.

Pieritz said she believes that the SUV damaged storefront windows a few shops down from the intersection. She noted that the SUV appears to have collided with two parked vehicles on South Boulevard as well.

Brown said funeral services for Tyus were held on March 16, at Pleasant Ridge Missionary Baptist Church, 116 S. Central Ave. 

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com  

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