New I-74 bridge, bike path record 1st fatality

Chhabria A. Harris

More than five months after the opening of the long-awaited Interstate 74 Bridge and five days after last week’s official ribbon cutting of its new bike and pedestrian path, the Mississippi River crossing claimed its first fatality.

According to a news release from Moline and Bettendorf Police Departments, at 2 a.m. Sunday, May 22, an SUV entered the bridge’s pedestrian and bike path from downtown Bettendorf and traveled over the length of the pathway to about 200 yards from the Moline entrance where it struck three pedestrians, killing one.

A pedestrian, Ethan L. Gonzalez, 21, of Moline, died from the injuries he suffered and the other two male pedestrians, aged 18 and 22, were treated for life-threatening injuries following the accident.

According to Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora Villarreal, the SUV’s driver Chhabria A. Harris, 46, of East Moline, is in custody and has been charged with three counts of Aggravated DUI – causing  death or great bodily harm; three counts of failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury; three counts of aggravated reckless driving; and one count of reckless homicide. 

An investigation is ongoing and since the crash occurred near the Moline pedestrian entrance/exit ramp, the Moline Police Department’s Traffic Unit and Criminal Investigation Unit are taking the lead on the case. The Traffic Unit is conducting a traffic crash reconstruction which can be a lengthy process, the release said.

Anyone with information should call the Moline Police Department at (309) 797-0401.

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