Richards family suing Fullers, driver

Brian and Kristine Richards of Hinsdale filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court in connection to the July death of their 14-year-old son, Sean.

The suit, filed by Clifford Law Offices, names the entities who own and manage Fuller’s Car Wash and other employees, including the 16-year-old who drove the Jeep that hit and killed Sean. The Hinsdalean has not named the driver because he is a minor.

Sean was walking on the sidewalk on the west side of Lincoln Street when he was hit by the Jeep as it exited the car wash bay at a high rate of speed. He was taken first to UChicago Medicine Advent Health Hinsdale in critical condition and later flown to Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago. He died three days later.

In a press conference Wednesday morning at the law firm’s Chicago office, Brian Richards spoke about his son, who was an altar boy and a Boy Scout.

“A large part of us was killed that day along with Sean,” he said. “Even after five months, it is difficult for us to comprehend that Sean is dead.”

Brian Richards said he and he wife have three objectives in pursuing litigation — the truth, accountability and public safety. He began by refuting the notion that the driver of the Jeep and the Fullers are in any way victims, as has been suggested on social media posts. He also reviewed results of the police department’s investigation, which show that the driver fully depressed the accelerator and at no time hit the brakes.

“No criminal charges have been brought against any of them for Sean’s death,” Brian Richards said. “None of them have been held accountable for their inexcusable reckless behavior that directly caused Sean’s death. Sean’s death was preventable.

“We believe that the individuals and entities should be held responsible for their actions and want to hold (the driver) and Fuller’s accountable for killing our beautiful son,” he added.

Clifford partner Bradley Cosgrove, speaking after the Richards, said a new driver should not have been behind the wheel.

“A 16-year-old doesn’t have the experience to be driving on a commercial basis. A reasonable car wash wouldn’t put a 16-year-old child in the seat of a car,” he said.

In terms of public safety, the Fullers did not do any work to determine if the bollards that have been installed outside of the car wash bay will stop a car moving at more than 35 mph, Kristine Richards said.

Cosgrove noted that two other incidents of cars leaving the bay at a high rate of speed — both of which caused damage to other cars — are almost identical in nature to the one that killed Sean.

“(W)e do not believe that it is safe for Hinsdale to have a car wash in an area of downtown Hinsdale that is very busy with pedestrians, bike riders, kids on scooters and families with strollers,” Kristine Richards said, suggesting the car wash be moved to Ogden Avenue.

She concluded by noting her son should be alive today.

“We want the world to know the truth about how Sean was killed, we want the people responsible for Sean’s death held accountable and we want to make sure that no other family has to go through the hell that we are living and will live for the rest of our lives,” she said.

The Fullers issued a statement Tuesday in response to news of the suit.

“Now that the legal process has begun, it does not change our heavy hearts and the grief we feel for the Richards family and the other families affected by this incident,” it reads. “While we cannot fathom what they are going through, we pray for the Richards family, all those injured and our entire community.

“The depth of this tragedy is felt daily by our family and employees,” the statement continued. “Our pledge is to remember and our promise is to serve the community faithfully as we have for decades.”

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean