Monday, October 01, 2018

For man who pushed stranger onto Loop Blue Line tracks, it's prison time

Chad Estep and a surveillance image of the attacker that was released by Chicago police. | CPD
Chad Estep, the 34-year-old Northwestern University doctoral recipient accused of pushing an unsuspecting stranger onto the Blue Line tracks downtown last year, arrived Friday as one of the newest inmates of Stateville Correctional Center.

Estep last week pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery in a public place for pushing the 46-year-old victim off of the platform and onto the tracks at the Washington station around 11:30 p.m. on August 1, 2017.

Judge Michael McHale sentenced Estep to three years in prison and gave him one day credit for time served. Prosecutors dropped attempted murder and two other felony counts as part of the plea deal.

Estep was married and had recently received his doctorate in neuroscience from Northwestern when he pushed Ben Benedict onto the tracks without provocation. Benedict told the Chicago Tribune that he fell five feet and landed just short of the electrified third rail. When he turned around to get back onto the platform, he saw Estes standing over him “like a lion looking at his prey.”

Benedict was able to climb out of the train’s path “just seconds” before the next Blue Line arrived, the Tribune reported.

Estep was identified by several people from surveillance images that police released after the attack. Cellular records showed his phone was in the Washington CTA station at the time of the attack, according to prosecutors. Police said that there was no evidence that the two men knew each other before the incident.

Following Illinois' standard sentencing guidelines, Estep will be given a 50% sentence reduction for anticipated good behavior plus credit for the one day of time he spent in Cook County Jail. His expected parole date is in March 2020.