Police are looking for the driver of an unidentified silver vehicle involved in a fatal hit-and-run that killed a 52-year-old Forest Park man crossing Madison Street on Sunday night.
Abderrahmane Lamrabet was struck shortly before 8 p.m. near the junction with Constitution Court, according to authorities. Friends of the victim said Lamrabet was watching the NFL playoffs at a bar, and was crossing the street to get a sandwich when the accident occurred.
He was pronounced dead at Loyola Medical Center just before 8:30 p.m., according to police. Chief James Ryan said Lamrabet appears to have died from “extensive head trauma.”
In a statement released by Forest Park police, the vehicle alleged to be involved in the crash is described simply as being silver in color. Ryan said witnesses are continuing to be interviewed, but details at this point are scant. Automotive repair shops in the area are being informed of the incident, Ryan said, and a multi-jurisdictional major crimes unit may be called in.
“The driver should have seen him,” Ryan said.
It’s unclear whether the east bound vehicle attempted to avoid the collision with Lamrabet. Whether the driver applied the brakes hard enough to leave skid marks on the pavement is unknown, Ryan said, because of the wet road conditions.
For the last eight years Lamrabet was employed as a cab driver for the Blue Cab Company on Roosevelt Road in Forest Park. Employees there described the Moroccan native as an outgoing and generous man who enjoyed the company of his friends, Motown classics and a good joke. Those closest to him said everyone knew him as Abdul, an abbreviated version of his first name.
“He was a great human being,” Iqbal Alibhai, a fellow cab driver said. “There’s not a person in this city that would say anything bad about him.”
Alibhai, a Chicago resident, shares cab number 15 with Lamrabet. When the accident happened, a bartender at the Kazzbar on Madison Street called him after finding Alibhai’s number on a business card. On Monday, Alibhai joined a steady rotation of friends and co-workers who gathered at Lamrabet’s apartment at 1123 Hannah Ave.
It was Alibhai and Lamrabet’s roommate, Zouhair El Amri, who were called to identify the body for authorities.
Over cups of hot chocolate and packs of Marlboro cigarettes, El Amri, 35, wiped his tears as those who called themselves Lamrabet’s adopted family sat in his living room swapping stories about their friend. Mohammed Boucaham grew up in the same neighborhood as Lamrabet in Morocco. Before coming to America, Lamrabet was an undercover police officer who targeted drug dealers, Boucaham said. In Morocco, his job forced him to be tough. But here in America, he was kind and funny.
“He was always against the drugs,” Boucaham said.
Even as a cab driver Lamrabet regularly took a stand against the proliferation of drugs, his friends said, and refused to give rides to dealers.
On a monthly basis Lamrabet sent money home to his mother, his children and his own siblings. He was fluent in Arabic, French, English and Berber, the language of native Moroccans, Gsazi Abutaa said.
Abutaa met Lamrabet almost 10 years ago when Lamrabet was cooking at the Grape Leaves restaurant in Oak Park. Regardless of his own well being, Lamrabet would give up his last $20 if it meant his family would be cared for, Abutaa said.
El Amri said he and his former roommate had just moved to their apartment on Hannah Avenue four or five months ago. The location put them just around the corner from the Blue Cab taxi office where a collection was being taken up to help cover funeral arrangements. Prior to that, El Amri said, they shared a place on Madison Street.
Forest Park police identified Lamrabet as a resident of the 900 block of Elgin Avenue. Anyone with information on the accident is asked to contact the Forest Park Police Department at (708) 615-6220.