Nine months after fatal car crash parents of victim lament lack of accountability and call for change

Sean Patrick Richards, 14, of Hinsdale, died from injuries sustained in a crash outside Fuller’s Car Wash on July 17.

Nine months later, Sean’s parents, Kristine and Brian Richards, feel the Village of Hinsdale has not done enough to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future.

“The corner at Lincoln and Chicago Avenue, where Fuller’s car wash is located, is not safe,” Kristine Richards said during a Village Board meeting, on Tuesday. “This has been known by Fuller’s and the Village for many years, I don’t think that Hinsdale residents quite understand how dangerous it is.”

The July crash was at least the fifth time a vehicle uncontrollably left Fuller’s Car Wash, causing property damage and physically injuring bystanders, Kristine Richards said.

Similar incidents occurred in 2007, 2009, and in 2022 when two unattended vehicles rolled out of the car wash, one of which pinned a woman against her car, according to Kristine Richards, the woman warned police that something needed to be done to prevent further incidents.

A month after the July crash, before getting zoning approval from the village board, the owner of Fuller’s Service Center installed 11 bollards outside the business along Lincoln Street.

Feeling the decision did not do enough to improve safety, the Village Board approved additional zoning to double the number of bollards and install a “decorative wall” around them in December.

That same month, the Richards joined three other victims of the crash in filing a lawsuit against the owners of Fuller’s Car Wash.

Tuesday, the Richards family, believing not enough has been done to improve safety, called for the Village to revoke Fuller’s 29-year-old special use permit allowing the car wash to operate.

“Fuller’s Car Wash has gotten a pass each time, they have never been issued a ticket, or fined by the police department or the village; no fines, no public hearings, no traffic study, no assessment of their special use permit, nothing,” Kristine said. “This village board is every bit as complicit as Fuller’s in ignoring all of the warning signs that lead up to our 14-year-old son’s tragic killing.”

According to Hinsdale Village President Thomas Cauley, an engineer working for the Village told the board when the additional bollards are installed, they will be able to stop a car traveling up to 35 miles per hour.

“You have my deepest sympathy… I think the whole community is behind you on this,” Cauley told the Richards, during the meeting. “We’re not enemies here, we’re on the same side.”

Kristine requested a third-party engineer take a look and give a second opinion on the matter.

No one with the Village’s engineering department responded to the Doings requests for comment by the time of publication.

“We don’t want to be adversarial here, we love this village,” Brian Richards said. “We’re not going to let this issue go, safety is our mission.”