FOX 32 / SUN-TIMES - A fiery crash early Monday in River North has claimed the life of a young woman. The driver who ran from the crash was later found dead in his apartment after apparently committing suicide, according to a police source.
Surveillance video captured the sports car speeding westbound on Ontario Street about to get on the Ontario feeder ramp when it crashed into a utility pole - splitting the car in two and instantly bursting into flames.
A passenger in the car, 21-year-old Alejandra Damian of Joliet, was pulled from the wreck and pronounced dead at the scene at 1:40 a.m., according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Damian, known to friends as “Aly,” was a student at DePaul University, and worked as a waitress at the Vertigo Sky Lounge and Cerise Rooftop, according to her Facebook page.
A GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral and memorial expenses had raised nearly $10,000 towards a $15,000 goal in just 15 hours as of Tuesday morning.
An autopsy found she died of multiple injuries from an automobile striking a fixed object, and her death was ruled an accident, the medical examiner’s office said.
The driver, 34-year-old Anthony Milder, jumped out of the car and ran away, according to a police source and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that Milder — who also went by Anthony van Morré — and Damian were at Bottled Blonde, a bar on Wells Street in River North, for several hours prior to the crash. Milder posted to Facebook at 6:32 p.m. Monday that he was at the bar.
Tuesday afternoon, a Bottled Blonde manager, who declined to give her name, said Milder and Damian were at the bar Sunday, but said they were at several other River North bars that night, as well.
Milder was found in his apartment in the 1800 block of North Wood Street, and pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m. Monday, according to police and the medical examiner’s office. An autopsy Tuesday ruled his death a suicide.
A police source told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Chicago Fire Department was dispatched to Milder’s home to perform a well-being check Monday evening. As fire crews were arriving, so too were Chicago Police officers who were there to question him about the crash.
The source said he hung himself with a belt and was found against a door.
According to his social media accounts, Milder was an active figure in the Chicago nightlife scene and worked at Underground, another bar in River North.
The high-end sports car involved was a 2009 Nissan GTR - owned by an Indiana man - whose friends say he loaned his car to a friend on Sunday.
"He’s a nice guy, I mean he wouldn't really friendly so if someone wanted to drive his car you know he's pretty friendly,” said friend Radovan Pavic.
Friends say the owner of the car is cooperating with police in their investigation. The crash happened at 1:30 Monday morning and shut down the Ontario feeder ramp leading to the Kennedy Expressway for eight hours.
Neighbors say they are not terribly surprised to learn of the high speed crash.
"People are at high speeds and I don't think they know which way to go,” said Gloria Castillo, who lives nearby.
"Cars don't yield for pedestrians around here, they are all just trying to get on the feeder ramp over there so everybody is just trying to fly through the intersection,” said Carlos Barillas, who works nearby.
Hours later, the scene was still charred from the fiery crash with the utility pole still on the ground.
Those who have seen the surveillance video say it's chilling to watch.
"It was shocking, I was surprised to see to hear the guy survived and went away and shocked that he was able to go away on his own power,” said David Ritter, who works nearby.