Man killed in West Lawn hit-and-run was a ‘beloved’ CPS employee

Charles “Charlie” Mills was fatally struck by a Toyota Camry in a hit-and-run March 31, 2024, in West Lawn.

Courtesy of Chicago Public Schools

A man killed in a West Lawn hit-and-run Sunday night was a “beloved” employee at William Jones College Preparatory High School, according to Chicago Public Schools.

Charles “Charlie” Mills worked as a special education classroom assistant for 23 years, according to Kerry Dolan, principal at the school. He also ran tech for the school’s events, including student showcases and choir performances.

“Charlie was a beloved member of our Diverse Learner team who also offered his expertise to our many performing arts productions. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” Dolan wrote in a letter to parents, guardians and staff at Jones. “We are saddened by this loss and will do everything we can to help our community together.”

“Charlie was a beloved member of our Diverse Learner team who also offered his expertise to our many performing arts productions. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” Jones College Prep Principal Kerry Dolan wrote about Charles “Charlie” Mills.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

Mills, 56, was crossing the street in the 6300 block of South Pulaski Road when a red Toyota Camry traveling north in the left lane at a high rate of speed hit him about 11:45 p.m. Sunday, witnesses told Chicago police.

Yésica González, 40, was driving to her West Lawn home Sunday night from her job in Cicero when she saw a speeding red car that appeared to at times drive in the middle of the roadway and on the roadway’s yellow lines.

She had first seen the vehicle on Pulaski Road near Marquette Road when it got close to her and cut her off. As González continued driving along Pulaski Road, closer to 63rd Street, she saw something ahead of her jump. It appeared to be a doll.

She pulled into a CVS parking lot and got a closer look, finding Mills.

“When I saw the blood, I said this isn’t a doll,” González said in Spanish, recalling how she called 911 right away.

González said the man who had been hit by the car appeared unconscious, but she never thought that he was dead.

She stayed at the scene until paramedics arrived and later saw that they pronounced the man dead.

Two days after the crash, González said she can still picture how the man looked on the ground. She takes Pulaski to and from work, but she’s never experienced anything so disturbing.

“I would tell his family that I feel their pain,” she said in Spanish. “I didn’t know him, but I felt awful seeing him bloody on the ground.”

Mills suffered major trauma to his head and body and was pronounced dead at the scene at 11:55 p.m., officials said. Police are investigating the incident as a homicide.

An autopsy Monday, however, ruled Mills’ death was the result of the crash, which the medical examiner’s office classified as an accident.

Emily Wills, 31, told the Sun-Times that Mills was someone who was “really reliable.”

“Anything you needed in the school, whether it was a new textbook or like you had a question, or some door got locked, like, you just went to Charlie,” said Wills, who attended Jones from 2007 to 2011 and knew him through the school’s theater program.

He’s one of the things that made Jones such a special place,” Wills said. “He’s one of those people who I can’t imagine high school without.”

Kristen Jamerson, 34, attended Jones from 2004 to 2008 and also knew Mills through the school’s theater department.

She described him as someone who “wasn’t really outspoken and one of the nicest adults at the school” while she was there.

“I don’t think anyone would have anything bad to say about him at all,” Jamerson said.

“He was always smiling and quick to forgive, and so humble. He did anything and everything with a smile, and spent more hours at Jones than almost anybody else,” Dolan, the principal, said in a statement. “He was kind beyond words and a `servant leader’ in every sense of the phrase. The world is a little better for having had Charlie in it.”

Support services were available for students and staff at the school Tuesday.

Wills hopes Mills’ family knows the effect he had on the students at Jones.

“I hope that they know how important Charlie was to the students,” she said. “I haven’t seen Charlie or got to speak with him in over 10 years, but I still remember him and I still appreciate all of the time and effort and energy he put into every single show I was part of.”

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