Family of model who drove into Chicago River awarded $13M

- The family of a woman who died after she crashed her car into the Chicago River has won $13,890,000 million dollars from the city.

On May 21, 2011, the car of 25-year-old Chicago fashion model Irma Sabanovic was pulled from the Chicago River with her body inside. It ended an intense search after she was reported missing nine days earlier. 

Now, a jury decided the city was partly responsible for her death.

Sabanovic disappeared in the early morning hours of May 12, 2011. Her last text to a friend simply said "I’m lost."

The popular fashion model was on her way to pick up her boyfriend, driving west on Blackhawk Street on Goose Island. The road ends, but Sabanovic drove straight into the Chicago River.

After her body was recovered, her family filed suit, claiming the city failed to protect drivers from potentially dangerous conditions at the end of the road.

"It was hard to listen to. The jury showed that if there was any kind of fence, she would be alive. Hurt, but alive,” said relative Alma Sabanovic.

Nearly 20 years before Sabanovic's accident, a man named Ricky Roman died after he drove east on Blackhawk and plunged his car into the river. That accident was a factor in the jury's decision.

Sabanovic was driving west on Blackhawk when she ended up in the water.

Sabanovic's attorney argued if you are not familiar with the area, it’s hard to tell the road ends.

The jury felt the city knew the area was dangerous for drivers and didn't do enough to protect Sabanovic's safety.

"Why in 1992 did the city of Chicago put up guardrails, barricades and signs on the west bank of the Chicago Rivers at Blackhawk, and do nothing to protect people on the east bank?" said Sabanovic family attorney Ian Alexander.

Alexander added that he is currently representing the family of another young man who drove his car into the Chicago River at the exact location on Blackhawk Street in 2001. His body was recovered in 2011.

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