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Hunter Himes, a boy with local roots who lives in Downers Grove, continues to undergo therapy after he was struck by a car on Feb. 26. (This picture was taken before the crash.) Friends and family are promoting an online petition in his honor to strengthen the state law against failure to yield to a pedestrian. Submitted photo
Seeking justice for a boy who was hit by a car, area residents are signing an online petition to strengthen the penalty for drivers in Illinois who fail to yield to a pedestrian.
Hunter Himes, a Downers Grove boy with Illinois Valley roots, was struck by a car on Feb. 26 as he was riding a bicycle in Darien, not far from his home. After spending time in a coma, he has undergone therapy but still has a long way to go, according to his grandmother, Theresa Donahue of La Salle.
If you hit a construction worker, it’s 14 years and a $10,000 fine.
But the steepest penalties for a driver who hits a pedestrian, such as Hunter, are just a $500 fine and community service, Donahue said. That’s unfair, she said, and it doesn’t provide enough of an incentive for drivers to pay attention and avoid pedestrians. She hopes enough people will agree with her and sign a petition to ask Gov. Pat Quinn to seek a law that will make the penalty for striking a pedestrian just as tough as for striking a construction worker.
A neighbor and friend of the family, Steven Vena recently started that petition on the website www.change.org.
Both the Vena family and Hunter’s, including Hunter’s parents, Terra and Mark Ihdes, moved to the neighborhood at about the same time and their sons immediately became friends.
“They got along,” Vena said. “(My son) was over at their house all the time… we really love the kid.
“It’s so unfortunate what’s happened to him.”
As the family worked through Hunter’s medical care, they also faced the unpleasant situation of dealing with the trial for the man who struck him. After learning about the penalties, Vena said the family wanted to do something to deter other drivers from making the same mistake.
“Unfortunately, for Hunter, it’s too late,” Donahue said. She hopes a tougher law could stop such an accident from happening to another family. Vena works in the marketing and advertising industry, and wanted to use his knowledge there to help them.
Vena said the website has a record of catching public attention, and the governor’s, in part through sending automatic electronic versions of the petition when 100 or 500 people have signed it. It has collected more than 700 signatures, and an updated version will head to the governor’s desk when that number hits 1,000.
“It’s going to keep going until we get a response,” Vena said.