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After Hit-And-Run Killed Retired Police Officer Richard Haljean, Edison Park Neighbors Say Touhy Avenue Is Dangerous And Action Is Needed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- In four days and counting, there was still no one in custody for hitting and killing retired Chicago Police Officer Richard Haljean on the Far Northwest Side.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Monday night, residents are demanding changes to what they say is a notoriously dangerous stretch of road.

"I am so afraid that one of our families; one of our children, is going to get hurt," said Cindy Penaloza.

Penaloza's daycare, the Children's Campus Center, sits right on a busy stretch of Touhy Avenue in the Edison Park neighborhood.

Close calls, speeding cars, and what she calls as a lack of safety measures have concerned Penaloza for years. She has even asked her alderman, Anthony Napolitano (41st), for help.

"I have seen the camera down the street at 57 (mph)," Penaloza said. "We had a gentleman that has recently passed away due to speeding."

That gentleman was Haljean, the retired Chicago Police officer who was killed in a hit-and-run last week. He was crossing Touhy Avenue just blocks from Penaloza's daycare.

"I'm angry, I'm saddened for the loss of life, and I'm praying we get some help - not only on Touhy, but on other streets," Penaloza said.

Right now, there is a red-light camera along Touhy Avenue, and the alderman's office says a speed camera has been approved, but hasn't been installed.

Bureaucracy can also get in the way of major changes on Touhy Avenue. It is a state road maintained by the city.

Ald. Napolitano's office said a traffic study is likely after Haljean's death.

In 2020, a pedestrian was hit and killed along a nearby busy stretch of Northwest Highway – where a flashing beacon is coming. Leaders with the Edison Park Community Council say it is a start, but more needs to be done to slow traffic - not just on Northwest Highway, but Touhy Avenue as well.

"This is a life-and-death situation for members of this community," said Paul Struebing, vice president of the Edison Park Community Council.

Struebing is also concerned about safety on Touhy Avenue following Haljean's death.

"The way it is designed now really makes it so that it turns it into what's essentially a highway or dragstrip right through the middle of a residential neighborhood," Struebing said.

And if major changes aren't made, Struebing said, "It's only a matter of time, if something is not changed, that something like will happen again."

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