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Family of siblings killed in Hazel Crest car crash call for safety changes, neighbors for speed control

The family of two siblings who died in a car crash in Hazel Crest earlier this month and nearby residents said village officials should address the unsafe driving conditions on Wood Street near 169th Street.

In the early hours of Jan. 13, Christopher D. Hudspeth, 31, and Jasmine Jackson, 31, were in the car with Hudspeth’s wife and their other sister, said Kysha Simpson, their sister, when they crashed into a tree. Hudspeth and Jackson died as a result of their injuries.

Simpson said Wednesday her family has not yet heard what caused the crash, but it’s likely Hudspeth, who was driving, was going slightly over the speed limit. Hazel Crest police did not return calls about the investigation.

“I’m going to assume maybe he was just driving a little too fast, not crazy. But, that particular area where they crashed is a crash site area,” Simpson said. “The city of Hazel Crest or whoever, do something about that place because it’s been so many car accidents on that very street.”

At the time of the crash, heavy snow was falling across the Chicago area with high winds. A measurement of 5.9 inches of fallen snow was recorded Jan. 13 in neighboring Homewood.

“They need to do better with shoveling the streets and getting the ice and snow up off the ground quicker,” Simpson said.

Diane Rice, who lives at the corner of Wood and 169th streets and across the street from where the crash occurred, said that night she woke up to the sound of her neighbor’s dog barking. The dog doesn’t normally bark so much, she said, so she decided to check camera footage from outside her house and saw emergency vehicle lights.

Rice said she and her husband saw paramedics administering CPR to someone on the ground and police officers assessing the scene.

“The car was split in two, basically,” Rice said.

Rice, who has lived in the house for about 30 years, said there are many accidents along Wood Street because drivers speed down the four-lane road.

In August 2021, Rice said there was a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of 169th and Wood streets that ended with one vehicle in her front lawn and the other vehicle in her backyard. Last winter, Rice said she saw a vehicle swerve into her lawn and swerve back onto Wood Street.

“This is like a drag strip,” Rice said. “They have no consideration for kids. They’re just speeding. They’re not mindful.”

Rice said she’s considered asking the Village Board to address the speeding on Wood Street. She’s attended two meetings, she said, but wasn’t sure how to bring the matter up.

“It is a problem,” Rice said. “They need to enforce some type of laws on this street.”

Hazel Crest Village President Vernard Alsberry directed questions to police Chief Mitchell Davis, who did not respond to requests for comment.

Hudspeth and Jackson were leaving UChicago Medicine Ingalls Hospital in Harvey, where their other brother was receiving treatment, Simpson said. They had left the hospital earlier in the day, Simpson said, but they and Hudspeth’s wife went back later to pick up their other sister.

Simpson said there was a miscommunication with hospital staff about whether their sister could stay the night at the hospital and she left well after visiting hours. They were headed to Hazel Crest to drop off their sister at their mother’s house, she said.

The car was traveling south on Wood Street around 2 a.m. when it crashed into a tree near 169th Street, ejecting the passenger from the rear driver-side seat, police said at the time.

Hudspeth’s wife was released from the hospital Wednesday but she suffered multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis and jaw, Simpson said.

Their other sister came out of the crash with fewest injures, but did break her leg in two places, Simpson said. She was able to shout out for help, Simpson said.

Hudspeth and Jackson both leave behind children, Simpson said. Hudspeth had a 1-year-old daughter and Jackson had three children ages 10, 9, and 8, she said.

Jackson lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and worked as a nurse at a hospital, Simpson said. Hudspeth was a certified life coach, she said.

As she thinks about her siblings, Simpson said she misses Jackson’s laugh and watching her raise her children. Simpson said she misses Hudspeth’s sense of humor and going to him for advice.

“That’s my sister and my brother. I’m just going to miss them period,” Simpson said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to cover expenses for her funeral and to go toward supporting her children during this difficult time, Simpson said. As of Friday, the fundraiser reached $8,642 of its $10,000 goal.

Hudspeth’s wishes were to not have a funeral, Simpson said, so they haven’t set up a GoFundMe for him yet. They may set one up in the future to help his wife and daughter, she said.

akukulka@chicagotribune.com