92-year-old cyclist dies after Madison St. accident

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By Jean Lotus

Forest Park Review Editor

An Oak Park man, age 92, died of his injuries Thursday night after his tricycle was struck by a westbound Chevy Impala near Madison Street and Scoville Avenue around 8 p.m.

Suleyman Cetin, who lived at the 500 block of Madison Street, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he was pronounced dead at 9:59 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Cetin was a well-known neighborhood figure, seen often riding around on his cycle on Madison Street said neighbor Eilene Heckman who lived in his building.

"He was kind of the neighborhood mascot," she said. "He would eat at the Burger King every day. He was all over the neighborhood working at lots of little odd jobs."

"We always thought he must be a millon years old and admired him so much because he was so active," she added.

Cetin, who lived in Oak Park since 1989, could be seen working at Jewel and also worked part-time at neighborhood car washes, said his son Sabri Cetinkunt, a professor at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).

"He didn't believe in retirement. He was always smiling. He never complained to me, or anybody, he pretty much took care of himself. People would always tell me, 'I saw your father today,'"

Cetin was born in Turkey and emigrated from Germany to the U.S., his son said. He became a U.S. citizen ten years ago.

"He loved this country and had a good life here," Cetinkunt said.

The driver of the Chevy was ticket for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, said Village of Oak Park Spokesman David Powers.

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Reader Comments

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You are Correct from OP  

Posted: September 7th, 2014 11:14 PM

I think it was a HATE crime.

Claudia Alcantara from Oak Park  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 9:32 PM

Mr. Chety, as I knew him, he was an extraordinary gentleman. I met him 10 years ago when he offered his friendship to my senior mom, they walked together enjoying the peaceful Oak Park streets, they spoke in a special language, my mother's short English and his remarked foreign accent. He was friendly, sweet and naive man. I moved out of Oak park and I came back two years ago and he was the same friendly person. I admired him for his energy and love still the same. He taught me a lot! Bye Mr.

Farhat Nadeem from Chicago IL  

Posted: November 4th, 2013 7:44 PM

my daughter in law Amy Nadeem told about his sad demise ,appreciating all his good deeds with a healthy lifestyle, span of 92 years. May God rest his soul in peace(Amen). His death due to accident does hurt me a lot. My humble request> please drive with care and safely. sincerely , farhat nadeem Oak Park , Chicago 11/04/2013

Ann Farrell from Oak Park  

Posted: October 31st, 2013 12:22 PM

One of my favorite things about Mr Cetin (and I have a very long list) was that you'd often times, see him wearing ladies sunglasses. The big gigantic ones from the era of Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton. And I always thought, just how extraordinary he was-to have repurposed some temporary, moronic, pop-culture trapping and transformed it into riding goggles for his chariot. We miss you every day.

Lorrie Wilkie from Oak park  

Posted: October 30th, 2013 12:13 AM

I know Mr Cetin, but only from when I would run at the OPRFHS track in the early morning in the summer. He would be walking around the track and smiling and talking to all on the track. We had many a lovely conversation. . He was a kind, happy and gentle man. I send prayers to his family and for the man who hit him. My bike is my car, it is how I get around. Everyone needs to SLOW down!!Whether you drive a bike or a car! May God bless you Mr Cetin, I will miss your smiling face.

Matt Baron from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 28th, 2013 2:20 PM

Condolences to all involved, including the driver. I would see Mr. Cetin around town on occasion and he always had a smiling, gracious spirit. In another story, I read his son's gracious comments, expressing no ill will toward the driver, and his thoughtful response amid personal tragedy is an inspiring model for us all to follow when faced with grief and loss.

Rickshaw Rick from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2013 2:06 PM

I never knew your name. Only your smile. Whether at the Jewel, at church or on the street you were never shy about sharing it. We would meet sometimes both on our respective 3-wheelers and I always gave you a "thumbs up" as we admired each others wheels. I never got to tell you how much you inspired me by just being there still pedaling and smiling no matter what. Thank you so much for that and thanks again for all of your smiles. We will all miss you. May God bless you & your family.

Alex from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2013 12:40 PM

Ugh, this is so sad for everyone involved. My condolences to the family of this lovely man and I do wish peace to the driver, whatever their culpability.

Violet Aura  

Posted: October 28th, 2013 11:27 AM

@Random OPer: I cannot understand why people always make that comment about cyclists having lights/reflectors. I have purchased lights but for some reason they have never come with an easily mounted bracket or whatever! But there should be no problems with drivers. If you don't whip around corners, drive too close to the curb or speed, you should be just fine.

Bike Oak Park   

Posted: October 28th, 2013 10:03 AM

So sorry to hear about this tragic incident. Out thoughts and prayers go out ot Suleyman and his family.

Random Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: October 28th, 2013 7:19 AM

The streets in Oak Park are too dark in general. Many times it is hard to see pedestrians until you are very, very close to them. I don't know about this case, but I know that there are a lot of bikers who do not have reflective gear or have lights on their bikes. It really is hard to see them at night. I think people should write to the village about better lighting. It is way overdue.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 5:13 PM

It amazes me that, despite the fact that the news story states only that this unfortunate man was "struck by a westbound Chevy Impala near Madison Street and Scoville Avenue around 8 p.m." and that the driver "was ticket (sic) for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident," there's no shortage of people ready and willing to assign culpability. I'd suggest deferring judgment at least until checking with the police who actually bothered to investigate the accident and found no criminal conduct.

Violet Aura  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 11:31 AM

...someone there! It never ceases to amaze me what is going thru their mind. Same with the parking lot at Whole Foods. People whip around corners, zoom thru the lot and I am like, don't you frigging get that there are people walking and biking around here? I cannot fathom that level of self-absorption and constant frenzy.

Violet Aura  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 11:29 AM

...and Home! There are lots of blocks in between and you have to wait between cars and are not always visible. Drivers who speed make it harder for pedestrians to cross and it is just a dangerous practice in a residential area. I would love to discuss this with whoever makes decisions on the stop lights and signs in the village. That opening to the Trader Joe's parking lot on Ontario is another place where people blow the stop sign as they are coming onto Ontario and then seem shocked to see...

Violet Aura  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 11:26 AM

@Reality Check: Amen! And it is due to car culture. OP is such a walkable town and even with all the so-called tree-hugging uber liberals, very few walk to the store or ride a bike. And most people these days have SUVs, which are huge. I am always amazed at how fast some of these drivers go, especially at Harlem and Lake. I know this happened at Madison but due to the outright tolerance of speeding in OP, drivers on Madison might sail along, also. And it sucks trying to cross between OP Ave...

Carolyn Berg from Oak Park  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 10:52 AM

A bright and joyful light has gone from all he touched with his impish smile, his sparkling eyes. Would we all could live such long, healthy and loving lives.

mark fillmore from oak park  

Posted: October 27th, 2013 9:01 AM

what sad news.i was driving home that night when i saw the 3 wheel bike,first i said oh no i pray to god its not Suleyman.always a smile and we would chat ,this summer he sat on my porch on rigdeland ave .me an him and my family/rip Suleyman. going to miss seeing you and saying hi at the gas station and car wash on Madison street

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: October 26th, 2013 3:34 PM

@ Joe from South Oak Park: thanxs for such a clear commentary.

Carol Southern from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: October 26th, 2013 9:30 AM

Yes, thank you, Chris Carrier.

Chris from OP  

Posted: October 26th, 2013 7:41 AM

The Tribune reported the cyclist was traveling northbound on Scoville at Madison. If that is true, the driver had the right of way. As terrible as the accident was, it does not appear it was his/her fault.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 26th, 2013 12:18 AM

The police gave the driver a ticket. That says the driver had some accountability in the collision. It does not say how much. There has been no statement about the accountability of the poor gentleman who was killed. The ticket is not necessarily the end of the driver's legal culpability. The police can add charges if they have evidence that the driver role was more serious. There is not enough information in the article or the posts to assume guilt against either person involved in the accident. Personally, I have a lot of confidence in the PD's ability to sort out the evidence and reach a legal conclusion. Until that happens, I think it is very unfair for posters to assume additional guilt on the part of the driver.


Posted: October 25th, 2013 11:02 PM

"Accident" is a word people use to hide their own culpability. There are no accidents. Yeah, boo hoo, the perp probably feels bad. All perps feel bad, when it comes time to beg for mercy. At least he is still alive to feel bad. I'm sure the man he killed would love to trade places with him.

Kathleen from River Forest  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 9:21 PM

This was an accident, at night, at a bad intersection, betwe 92 year old bicyclist and a driver. A terrible accident that ended in the death of a human being, leaving a driver alive - one who would presumably be terribly distraught, knowing that he/she has to live with this fact. What a terrible burden to carry - whether or not the driver was going too fast or not, or if the bicyclist was partially at fault. The end result is the same. My condolences to all - family, friends, and driver.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 8:37 PM

reality check- failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident is the ticket given to any driver that traveling at or below the speed limit that hits another vehicle. I don't see any mention of reflectors or lights on the tricycle in the article so it may have been difficult to see until it was too late to stop. The only way that i would see the driver as 100% responsible is if he hit the trike from behind while the trike was maintaining position in a lane, but nothing in the article suggests this.

John Abbott from Oak Park   

Posted: October 25th, 2013 7:54 PM

I'm also amazed at the presumption of some writers "the driver feels bad enough already." This may or not be true, but it's certainly a novel legal argument -- one that thankfully is accorded only limited consideration in our court system. I suspect that the motorists among you are simply projecting your own interests onto this event. Can you see how the cyclists among us might feel differently?

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 7:50 PM

I'm amazed at the confidence some express that, even if the driver might have been a little bit culpable, surely s/he was not so culpable that anyone need look further into this case. I'm not saying either s/he or the police acted improperly here, but think that a cyclist's death merits more than a complacent assumption of absolute innocence.

sandra E garcia from oak lawn ill  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 7:13 PM

Hi this is Victor Salgado from the car wash that your father use to go and work their . He was like a friend to me every time i saw him he will have a smile on him face and he happy all the time. It sad for me to hear that something like that happen to the person that use to go to the car wash with me. Just can't believe that something like that will happen to much a good person like him.

angela from oak park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 7:04 PM

He lived in the same building as me, though I never spoke to him I always saw him on his tricycle. Its horrible someone his age has to pass away so painfully. I came home around ten last night and saw the crime scene with the car and his bike and hoped and prayed for the best. Rest inpeace and I give my respect s to his family

J Roy Burton from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 4:36 PM

It's a very dangerous intersection. Scoville jogs to the West and there are no crosswalks anywhere near. There is constant foot traffic between Fenwick and 7Eleven, and pedestrians have a choice of jaywalking or staying home.

Eilene McCullagh Heckman from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 4:36 PM

It's a terrible intersection. I really wish they'd make the turn from Scoville on to Madison right-turn-only from both the northbound and southbound branches...or extend the median to block crossing at Scoville completely. People trying to get to the Jewel... or to Fenwick to pick up their kids... cause enough problems... and the non-existent crosswalk to the 7-11 is absolutely stupid with the school so close. There's been an accident out front almost every year I've lived on Madison at the intersection. It's confusing for pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists alike. I'm going to miss Mr. C as a neighbor... I can only hope I make it to 92 cycling...

Terri Monaco from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 4:28 PM

Suleyman wil be truly missed by our family. He was a wonderful man. My condolences to his son Sabri and family.

Reality Check  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 4:23 PM

For all the apologists claiming that the driver was not at fault, he/she/it received a ticket for failure to reduce speed. He/she/it is at fault. What's shameful is that Car Culture is only allowing that the person who killed this dear man pay the cost of a ticket. Let's all hope that an investigation continues, and that charges appropriate to the crime are forthcoming.

Laurie Beasley from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 3:54 PM

I am so sorry about Suleyman. I remember his thanking me when he saw my bumper sticker opposing our invasion of Iraq over a decade ago. I'm sure the driver of the car feels terrible about the accident.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 3:07 PM

I wouldn't be too hard on the driver. It's a dark area and it does say something that he did not get a speeding ticket. I am sure the driver is suffering over the accident. The sad thing about it is that Scoville is only one block from the a street with stop lights. The poor man would have been safer crossing there.


Posted: October 25th, 2013 2:55 PM

I was walking to the Jewel on Madison and saw the over turned tricycle and accident scene. I'd see this man almost every morning while I was out running and he always had a smile and a wave. It's a sad loss and it's difficult to believe the person who hit him only received a ticket for not slowing down.

Jennifer von Ebers from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 2:20 PM

He was a customer of mine at a local bank for ten years. And of course I would see him at Jewel when he worked there. My daughter and I just saw him on his bike this week and he slowed down to wave to me as we were heading to school/work. So sorry for his family - what a tragedy.

Peter Saltzman from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 2:13 PM

Truly a tragedy. I was telling my wife a few months ago, as we saw him ride by on Oak Park Ave., that he road by our house in south Oak Park on the very day we moved in, and has been riding by every since. I always worried about him getting hit, but he seemed to be indestructible.

Al Magallanez from Oak Park, IL   

Posted: October 25th, 2013 2:08 PM

Very saddened by this. This man was a gentile soul who always had a smile on his face for people and animals alike. This is a great loss to our neighborhood.

Tara from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 2:05 PM

Deepest sympathy to Suleyman's family. He was certainly a well known and beloved neighbor in South Oak Park - joyfully riding his three-wheeler with a ready smile and warm European greeting. He will be missed.

Cary McLean from Oak Park   

Posted: October 25th, 2013 1:58 PM

Suley!! We became friends first at Jewel. I only live a block away, so he would walk over and we would talk about my garden, have lunch or a glass of wine. While his accent was strong we could still somehow have a conversation. He always had a smile on his face and spoke lovingly about his son. I am terribly sad to hear that he has died. He truly loved life. I'll miss you.

Debbie Mercer from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 1:41 PM

This is so sad. I feel like he was my friend. When I got my car washed, he was the one who would dry it off for me. We would shake hands and exchange smiles. He would ask my name each time, but I know he remembered my face. I once asked him how old he was and he told me 70. Somehow I thought that seemed low, but I never would have imagined 92--and still working so hard in the heat and the cold. He had the kindest heart. I'm heartbroken.

Chandice from Oak park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 1:14 PM

Sulay and I met at a Madison Street car wash. Looking like a character from a fairy tale, this wizened elder joyfully asked to dry my car. He repeated, while gleefully laughing and smiling: "I know you! I know you!." After being recipient of a few hugs and kisses through the car window, I went in my way, feeling as if I had known him for a million years. I saw him weekly at the car wash and riding his cool tricycle, smiling as he peddled along. I will miss you my sturdy, magical friend...

Amy Renzulli from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:53 PM

I will miss Suleyman. I met him at the Jewel and once I knew his name, I saw him everywhere. He always had a smile on his face and I always tried to make time to chat with him. My heart is heavy for his family and I will miss his smile. What a sad, tragic accident.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:45 PM

It was 8:00 PM. which means it was dark. I can understand how this accident could have occurred. Even with the benefit of reflectors or lights, cyclists are hard to see in the evening hours. I feel sorry for both Mr. Cetin's family and the person who hit him. An incident like this changes one's life forever.

Dennis Olsen from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:38 PM

It is very unfortunate that the driver was able to get off so lightly. Oak Park is a residential community and drivers can reasonably expect there to be bicyclists and pedestrians on our roadways. Your basic responsibilities as a motorist are very simple- pay attention to where you're going and for Pete's sake don't run over anybody. This is not too much to ask.

Jim Bowman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:34 PM

Well said, Chris Carrier.

Chris Carrier  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:31 PM

I would infer by the nature of the ticket that the driver was generally not at fault except that they did not see the cyclist until it was too late. Details would help, yes, but we have to resist the urge to try and convict the driver based on the tragic result rather than circumstances any of us (as drivers) could be in.

John Abbott from Oak Park  

Posted: October 25th, 2013 12:27 PM

Incredibly sad, and my heart goes out to Mr. Cetin's family. He sounds to have been an admirable guy. It was additionally horrifying to read that the driver was only "ticket[ed] for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident." Is that the end of this story? No, I have no idea as to the details of what happened, but if Oak Park is to shore up its image as a safe place for cyclists, there needs to be further investigation into this incident.

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