Prominent Chicago Entertainment lawyer Linda Mensch identified as woman killed in East Garfield Park hit-and-run – CBS Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS) – Linda Mensch, a well-known lawyer in the music and film industry and a board member of the homeless prevention advocacy organization A Save Haven, died this week in a misdemeanor leaked into the West Side of town.
Police said at around 3:50 p.m. Thursday, a black GMC Savana pickup truck struck the 70-year-old woman in the 300 block of North Central Park Avenue near Fulton Boulevard in East Garfield Park.
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Although the driver stopped at the crash scene, he got back into the van and fled north on Central Park Avenue.
Mensch was later pronounced dead.
Mensch’s daughter, Jess Heyman – a New York County Defense Services attorney in Manhattan – told CBS 2 the details of what she heard.
“He hit her first, I guess, then got out of the car and came in, then left and dragged her body under the car for several yards,” Heyman said.
Heyman said the driver was driving at “insane speed” and drove recklessly, and believes it is likely that Mensch died as a result of being dragged.
Mensch was a New York native who, according to his friend and colleague Lynn Orman Weiss, became a “Chicago warrior for the arts – musicians, writers, authors, filmmakers – and a staunch advocate for artists’ rights.”
Mensch had been vice president and president of the Chicago Recording Academy in the 1990s and started a pre-Grammy party in Los Angeles where all of the Chicago artists and nominees performed, Orman Weiss wrote.
Orman Weiss provided photos showing Mensch with icons such as Grammy-winning Chicago folk and children’s musician Ella Jenkins – who was Mensch’s long-time client – as well as blues guitarist and Grammy winner David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
Mensch also had a passion to help the homeless, which led her to get involved with A Safe Haven.
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Safe Haven chairman and co-founder Neli Vazquez Rowland released a statement on the loss of Mensch on Saturday.
“Linda S. Mensch has been an incredible life force in her professional career as an award-winning lawyer in the music and film industry,” Rowland said in the release. “She has also been an extraordinary and dedicated member of the A Safe Haven Board of Directors and a champion of the homelessness cause for over 12 years. As a friend, she touched the lives of thousands of people from all walks of life and was loved by all. Her legacy will truly live on in the hearts and minds of all of us who knew her and were inspired by her intelligence, compassion, kindness, humor and joy.
Mensch was legal counsel to Mandell Menkes LLC and Leavens, Strand and Glover LLC Entertainment, and was also president of her own law firm, Safe Haven said.
Heyman said her mother was Chicago’s first female entertainment lawyer and loved by many.
Heyman also said his mother was a cheerful person who lived to connect with others.
“She’s led an amazing life in color,” Heyman said. She said her mother loved traveling, eating and listening to music, and loved hearing people connect and find out what their dreams were.
“All she wanted was to find a way to make your dream come true – and find the right person to connect with; the producer, the job or whatever, ”Heyman said.
Heyman said Mensch had “really, really lived” until the end and had just been kayaking last weekend.
Heyman said her mother also inspired her to become a lawyer and called her “glamorous, brilliant, enthusiastic and charismatic inspiration.”
“I felt like a giant foot had trampled on me,” Heyman said upon hearing the news of his mother’s death. “I felt sort of flattened with grief.”
Police released surveillance footage of the pickup truck, which bears the Illinois specialty White Sox license plate number 11285WS.
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Anyone with information about the accident is asked to call the Major Accident Investigation Unit at 312-745-4521.