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Man Killed in Hit-and-Run Crash on His Birthday

Eugene Ratcliff was killed and two others were injured in Avalon Park crash



    Man Killed by Hit & Run on His Birthday

    Family and friends react to the death of a man celebrating his 32nd birthday. Natalie Martinez reports. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013)

    A Chicago man excited to be celebrating his 32nd birthday was killed Tuesday night in a hit-and-run crash in the city's Avalon Park neighborhood.

    Eugene Ratcliff and two others were crossing the street near East 83rd Street and South Blackstone Avenue when they were hit by a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta at about 9:30 p.m., officials said.

    Ratcliff's 22-year-old friend, Jovan Smith, was also injured in the crash, but not seriously. Smith said the group was walking to buy cigarettes when the Jetta, with a police squad car in pursuit, came speeding down the street.

    Police denied there was a chase but said the 17-year-old driver of the Jetta sped off after hitting the group and then struck a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire before being arrested.

    Ratcliff was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn where he later died. 

    Smith said Ratcliff had been excited about his birthday, repeatedly saying, "I'm 32! I'm 32!"

    "Life is short. You never know what can happen," Smith added after leaving Jackson Park Hospital.

    A 30-year-old woman also injured in the crash was taken to South Shore Hospital and listed in stable condition. The driver of the Sunfire refused medical treatment.

    Investigators said they didn't immediately know if drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.