Driver was fleeing from locksmith, unpaid bill when he killed woman, seriously hurt her husband: prosecutors

Zainab Suboh hoped to get one last family trip in before the holy month of Ramadan, so she and her husband of 60 years traveled to Chicago earlier this week from their home in Indiana.

With them were their son, his wife and their three children. As they crossed the intersection of Kimball and Peterson avenues Tuesday night, they were hit by a driver speeding through a red light at more than 50 mph — allegedly while fleeing a locksmith he hadn’t paid.

Zainab Suboh, 78, was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston where she died. Her husband Misbah suffered fractured ribs and a fracture to his right leg and spine, as well as bleeding in his brain, according to family members. Others in the car were not as seriously injured.

Zainab’s daughter-in-law described her as someone who was "beautiful with the most amazing green eyes and beautiful, sparkly smile … She had that angelic glow about her, she was like a little angel."

The driver who hit them, Kurell Purnell, 18, was taken in fair condition to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he was taken into custody and charged with reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving.

Purnell had been at a grocery store Tuesday when he locked his keys in his Saturn sedan and called a locksmith, prosecutors said during a hearing Thursday.

When the locksmith opened the car, Purnell said he would drive to an ATM to withdraw money but instead sped off as the locksmith followed, prosecutors said.

The locksmith followed Purnell from Skokie until Purnell ran a stop sign at Glenlake and Kimball avenues, prosecutors said. Minutes later, Purnell ran into a Kia Sorento carrying the Suboh family.


Purnell claimed he had the right of way, though prosecutors noted that video surveillance from nearby businesses show otherwise. Also, electronic readings from Purnell’s sedan revealed it was traveling 65 mph five seconds before the crash and 52 mph one second before the crash, prosecutors said. The posted speed limit was 30 mph.

Zainab Suboh and her husband came to the United States from Kuwait in 1990 for the wedding of their son Esam and his wife Summayya. The Gulf War prevented them from returning and they decided to settle in Highland, Ind. where they operated a convenience store and catering business.

They regularly visited Chicago after their granddaughter got married three years ago. "They would visit her as often as they could," Summayya said.

Zainab and her husband Misbah Suboh celebrated their 60th anniversary last September and were "the known love story in their community," according to family members.

"It’s going to hit hard when we go home to my dad and she’s not there," Esam Suboh told the Sun-Times.

Summayya said Zainab’s "humbleness and nurturing ways" were part of what made her so memorable.

"There’s too many to count," Summayya said with a slight chuckle when asked her favorite memory of her mother-in-law. "She helped me raise my children when they were young."

Esam and Summayya took a minute counting how many grandkids Zainab Suboh had. The final tally was 27, ranging in age from 3 to almost 40.

Summayya said Zainab’s husband Misbah didn’t need any surgery and is expected to recover. "But the greatest loss to him was my mother-in-law," she said.

"They were always used as an example and model for what a couple should look like," Summayya said. "They were a perfect example of what a beautiful, loving relationship was."

The family says they have been receiving an "unbelievable amount of love and support from the whole community" following Zainab’s death.

"They feel like they want to be with us but it’s been difficult because we’re not near home, the hospitals aren’t near us," Summayya said. "We are just genuinely humbled by all the outpouring of love that has been brought upon us by the community."