Evanston police say a lengthy investigation by traffic officers has led to an arrest in a February hit and run accident at Chicago Avenue and Dempster Street.

Just after 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 8, Fire Department paramedics found the accident victim, Yun Park, who owns Soapie’s Cleaners at 1231 Chicago Ave., in the street at the intersection.

They transported her to the hospital, but Sgt. Scott Sophier says that due to her condition and a lack of witnesses, no details about what had happened were learned at that time.

Ten days later video surveillance was discovered that conclusively showed Park had been struck by a driver who then fled the scene in a white sport utility vehicle.

Sophier says the police traffic bureau determined the vehicle was a Nissan Rogue, seen on multiple surveillance cameras while traveling through Skokie and Evanston before the crash.

But, “due to the time of day, camera placement and lighting, no license plate details were captured,” Sophier says, and attempts to enhance the videos were unsuccessful. 

However, two traffic officers, reviewing additional surveillance video over time, noticed a Nissan Rogue that consistently traveled the same route as the vehicle that struck the victim on Feb. 8. 

On July 14, 2023, the officers contacted the driver of that vehicle and, Sophier says, during an interview she made an incriminating statement regarding her involvement in the hit-and-run crash.

Sophier says that once officers determined that the driver, Eugenia Kuczynska, 66, of the 5800 block of West Henderson Street in Chicago, was driving the car when it struck Park, they placed her under arrest and transported her to the station. 

He says the investigation did not produce evidence necessary for felony charges.

Kuczynska was charged instead with misdemeanors for failure to render aid or provide information while involved in a traffic crash and failure to exercise due care to avoid a pedestrian.

She posted bond and was released pending her court date at 1:30 p.m. on July 28 at the Skokie courthouse.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. “He says the investigation did not produce evidence necessary for felony charges.”

    I honestly don’t understand this… this was a terrible thing she did…

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

    1. Police probably would need more evidence of intention of the driver or the driver’s awareness that she had hit a pedestrian. It sounds like all they had for the basis of the charge is what Eugenia Kuczynska chose to tell the police.

      1. Always a tough call for a prosecutor’s office. Do you bring the stronger charge and that requires a higher burden of proof, at the risk of failing?

    2. I talked to an Evanston officer this morning, and he said the decision to charge her only with a misdemeanor was the decision of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, not Evanston police. He said he couldn’t offer an opinion about the charge, but I could tell he wanted something tougher. I also wanted to, and tried to, talk to the defendant about this, but her phone was disconnected. (I’m a customer of the injured woman’s dry cleaners shop.)

      1. Very hard to charge a felony if you can’t prove who was driving. I commend the EPD for their tenacity. This is probably the best outcome we could hope for without a full confession.

  2. I should have said this in my earlier comment.

    Excellent job EPD!!! Thank you.

    They had nothing and put pieces together through diligent work on a case that seemed like a long shot to find out who to investigate and then were savvy enough to get the perpetrator to give up enough self-incriminating statements that they could arrest her.

    Truly outstanding.

  3. Exceptionally tenacious and impressive investigation by the Evanston Police Department. The misdemeanor criminal charges are of course disappointing, but after reading the initial Evanston Now news article on February 21, 2023, my sense at the time was this hit-and-run case would remain open indefinitely. At least now there is some closure to this unfortunate incident.

  4. Terrible that the violent driver of this vehicle won’t spend the years in prison that such a despicable act demands. We need our justice system to treat such tragic events as what they are: violent attacks with all the culpability and consequence of any other assault with a deadly weapon.

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