‘Just jump in. I will help you get to the hospital.’ Man in the Tesla tells of dramatic moments after 1-year-old boy was shot in head on Lake Shore Drive
CHICAGO - When a Gold Coast man was driving north on busy Lake Shore Drive Tuesday and driving home on a South Side Walgreens after a COVID-19 vaccination, he suddenly noticed a crash near Monroe Drive.
As he got closer, he saw a woman crawl out of a crashed car holding a little boy, he told the Tribune on Wednesday during a telephone interview.
“My baby was shot! My baby was shot!” She yelled as she grabbed the motionless toddler in one arm and waved frantically with her free arm to try to stop anyone, anyone.
The man who had his driver's side window on his Tesla because it was so warm said there were Gawkers who drove by and then sped away. But the man who asked not to be identified said his adrenaline had kicked in.
"I didn't get out of the car. It wasn't a big talk. I remember her request:" Help me! "Said the man.
"Just jump in. I'll help you get to the hospital," he said to the woman who was later referred to by the police as the boy's grandmother.
A man was with them too, and with the three in his back seat, his only focus was on finding the fastest route to Northwestern Memorial Hospital several blocks away.
Police said Tuesday that the 21-month-old boy, identified as Kayden Swann, was shot in the head during a traffic incident that began further south on Lake Shore Drive. The shooting took place near Roosevelt Road and the car the boy was in crashed near Monroe, police said.
The "nonanimate" baby, wrapped in a blanket or towel, was not crying or moving, the man said, and he could only see his torso and legs.
When he pulled into the tunnel area of the emergency room to the northwest, they jumped out and the staff rushed to help them to the hospital.
That was the last time he saw them together, although the man thanked him later.
Kayden was in very critical condition on Wednesday in the pediatric intensive care unit at Lurie Children's Hospital, where he was abducted from the northwest on Tuesday. He was in a medical coma to protect his brain and was on a ventilator, said Dr. Marcelo Malakooti, deputy chief physician and medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Lurie, at a press conference on Wednesday.
He has a serious brain injury. His condition had not worsened between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, although Malakooti said he remained "incredibly ill".
"The fact that he has not deteriorated gives us cautious hope," he said.
The man who drove the Tesla told the Tribune he did not want to leave the hospital after transporting the boy there.
"The excitement was pretty high and my adrenaline was running," he said.
After about two minutes, two Chicago police officers who knew about the shooting and the crash arrived at the hospital.
He told them what had happened and they were able to collect evidence, including blood from his back seat. The man also shared the video from a dashcam installed in his Tesla.
"I'm glad we got there in time. I didn't know the baby was shot in the head. The truth is, as soon as it happened, I have no idea what they even looked like," he said of his passengers .
The tech professional in his forties said he couldn't have lived with himself if he hadn't stopped.
"I mean, they needed help," he said. “Ultimately, I couldn't have that on my conscience. ... I could be molested, and that was the cause of death for someone? "
Police said the shooter and victims did not appear to know each other, but it was believed the argument was about someone who did not let another driver into their lane.
Kayden was sitting in a booster seat in the back of the car, a white Lincoln, according to a police report quoting preliminary information. His grandmother sat in the passenger seat and her boyfriend drove.
A witness told police that an SUV and the Lincoln began to drive erratically and an altercation started somewhere between 35th Street and 31st Street on Lake Shore Drive, the report said.
On Roosevelt Road, someone in the SUV started shooting the Lincoln, hit him several times, and hit the boy, the report said. Another witness said the grandmother's friend returned fire. The grandmother's friend was arrested at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for having a 9mm Bersa pistol.
Police did not bring charges against the man on Wednesday and said no one else was in custody.
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