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Northwestern Ph.D. grad charged with pushing man onto CTA tracks in Chicago Loop

Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- A recent Ph.D. graduate from Northwestern University charged with intentionally pushing a stranger onto subway tracks at a CTA Loop station was bailed out of Cook County Jail, records show.

Chad Estep was ordered held on $200,000 bond by Judge Michael Clancy on Tuesday while he awaits trial on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Hours later, about 6:40 p.m., his wife posted the necessary $20,000 by check, according to county records. Estep's attorney had earlier indicated in court that Estep could post only about $5,000.

Estep, 34, was given the usual conditions of bail: refrain from liquor and illegal drugs; surrender any firearms; do not contact the victim; and report to pretrial services as required.

There was no indication that he has been barred from using the CTA.

Efforts to reach Estep, his wife and his parents on Wednesday were not successful .

A motive for the attack remained a mystery, but Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday said Estep appeared intoxicated on surveillance videos inside the Blue Line's Washington Street station.

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At the bond hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti alleged that Estep came up behind Ben Benedict, 46, late on Aug. 1 and shoved him onto the tracks with both hands, knocking him perilously close to the electrified third rail.

Estep then tried to block Benedict from getting back onto the platform -- and even tried to stop others at the station from assisting Benedict, she said.

Benedict finally climbed to safety just seconds before a train arrived, Antonietti said, while Estep managed to flee.

Benedict and Estep did not know each other, the prosecutor said.


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