On May 12, 2011, Irma Sabanovic was on her way to pick up her boyfriend from his job as a DJ at the popular Chicago nightclub, Exit. Somehow she became lost and wound up on Goose Island, an artificial island located in the Chicago River. Goose Island is a heavy industrial area that is confusing to navigate. Irma found her way onto W. Blackhawk Street. While travelling westbound on Blackhawk her car left the road and plunged into the inky darkness of the North Branch of the Chicago River. For nine days the Chicago Police searched for Irma, treating the case as a missing person’s investigation. Eventually her body was discovered inside her upside down vehicle submerged in 12 feet of water at the bottom of the river off of the end of Blackhawk St. Police canvassing the area were able to locate a closed circuit surveillance video that captured her vehicle driving off of the end of the road and into the river at 2:00 am on the morning of May 12, 2011.
Irma Sabanovic was a 25 year old fashion model who was studying theater at Wilbur Wright College. She was a beautiful, sweet, fun-loving woman with a wickedly smart sense of humor. Her family, unable to make sense of her needless and tragic death, hired Goldberg & Goldberg to investigate the circumstances and determine why there were no signs, barricades and warnings at the end of the road. A wrongful death and survival lawsuit was filed at the end of May 2011 against the City of Chicago.
For years the City claimed that there were no warning signs at the end of the road, even though a similar tragic accident had occurred 17 years earlier on the opposite bank of the Chicago River. After that accident, the City erected barricades on the West bank of the river but claimed to have done nothing on the East bank. Or so we were told, until the City of Chicago discovered the proof of their own negligence in late 2015 when they “found” work orders which showed that stop signs and a dead end sign had been placed in 1993 and removed, for an unexplained reason, sometime thereafter. It was also determined that a 2000 lb concrete Jersey Barrier had been placed on the road near the east bank of the river but that the barricade did not extend across the entire length of the roadway. Had concrete barriers been deployed across the entirety of Blackhawk St. this tragedy would have certainly been avoided.