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After hit-and-run kills CPS staffer, safety concerns about road in Chicago intensify

Deadly hit-and-run spurs road safety concerns on Chicago's Southwest Side
Deadly hit-and-run spurs road safety concerns on Chicago's Southwest Side 02:47

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Concerns have been growing about a stretch of road in a West Lawn neighborhood where a beloved Chicago Public Schools staffer was struck and killed in a hit-and-run this past weekend.

Charlie Mills, 56, was a special education classroom assistant at Jones College Prep in the South Loop. With 23 years on the job, he was loved by many.

Jones College Prep special education classroom assistant Charlie Mills Chicago Public Schools

On Sunday night, he was killed in a hit-and-run while crossing Pulaski Road near 64th Street.

"Something needs to get done before a lot more people start getting hurt," said Diana Malagon.

Months before Mills' death, residents like Malagon had been sounding the alarm about dangers along the busy road.

"Pulaski is really the place where people come to drag race. They blow red lights. They don't wait for people to cross," she said. "It's something that has been getting out of hand."

Malagon said there is also lots of speeding on Pulaski Road – as was observed right before CBS 2's cameras.

"I actually sit out here three times a week because I wait for my son to get out of his karate class," Malagon said, "and you could just feel - as soon as they start passing by, you feel the car shake, and you see them swerving in and out of lanes - being just crazy on the street."

The site where Mills was hit and killed was just steps away from the office of Ald. Silvana Tabares (23rd). The alderwoman likewise said reckless driving in the area is a longtime problem.

"It's like having a major expressway in the middle of a residential neighborhood," Tabares said.

For over a year, Tabares said she has been calling on the city to step in -even conducting a traffic study.

"Whether it's adding more pedestrian islands in the middle of the road, or more speed cameras, or more corner bump-outs, or striping of the lanes - we need more urgency from the city, and we need all levels of government to be engaged," said Tabares.

Eddie Guillen, with the West Lawn Neighborhood Watch, said it is also going to take community action to tackle the problem.

"We encourage a lot of the neighbors to call in if they see anything - especially reckless driving," Guillen said. "We all know accidents happen, but to drive away – it's really unfortunate. But someone needs to be held accountable."

Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper, an alumnus of Jones College Prep, posted a tribute to Mills on Tuesday:

"Rest in peace to Charlie Mills. One of the few teachers/staff at my highschool that didn't discourage me or make me feel stupid. Yall should be more like him. He was loved by all because he loved all. This is so sad."

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