According to a variety of news reports, including one from NBCChicago.com of May 28 titled “Model Was Drinking Before Accident: Report” the family of the woman who died has filed a Wrongful Death suit against the City of Chicago on Thursday.
Fehim Sabanovic, the father of Irma Sabanovic, a North Side woman found drowned inside a car in the North Branch of the Chicago River, filed the wrongful death suit.
In his suit, he claims the city negligently allowed barricades or traffic control devices near the accident site to fall into disrepair and failed to inspect the area. The lawsuit also claims warning signs and better barricades may have prevented the accident.
Irma Sabanovic, 25, was a model and college student. She was found dead Sunday in her car, a Ford Focus, which had been submerged in the Chicago River near the 1100 block of West Blackhawk — the street she was believed to be driving on previous to her car entering the river.
According to Chicago Police, the last time anyone saw her was May 12, as she was heading to a nightclub at West North and North Elston avenues.
According to her lawyer, Ian R. Alexander, “Her car went in the river about 2 in the morning. I don’t know if she was unconscious when she was in the water — we just don’t know what happened,” noting the family wonders whether Sabanovic sat in her car, awaiting death.
It was a Chicago Police Marine Unit sonar that picked up a signal that an object was in the water off Blackhawk and Elston, not far from the club.
Cranes hoisted the Ford Focus out of the water on Sunday, near North Elston Avenue and West Blackhawk Street.
Now the family is placing blame on the City of Chicago. According to the Wrongful Death lawsuit, Sabanovic was driving westbound in the 1100 block of Blackhawk with no signal that she was heading toward the river.
“The road literally ends, and after that it drops off into the river. It’s an optical illusion because it looks like you could [continue] driving down the road, and think it extends across the river. It doesn’t,” Alexander said.
“The city admitted through their spokesman — their Department of Transportation spokesman told [reporters] — that they had put a curb at the end of Blackhawk Street eight to nine inches high making it double the size of a regular curb and that was their attempt to make a barricade between the roadway and the water. That’s just B.S. If you look at any other area, such as Goose Island, they put up signs and concrete barriers.”
The family is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.
The city denies Fehim Sabanovic’s claim. The street was well-lit with a “no outlet” sign displayed at the entrance and an 8-inch curb at the end of the street, it said in a statement.
According to the NBCChicago.com article, “Video allegedly exists showing Irma Sabanovic drinking several beers and shots of liquor over a short period of time, the Sun-Times reported, citing their source.”