CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - Two Chicago police officers were seriously injured while responding to a shooting Saturday afternoon when their SUV slammed into a dump truck in the West Side Humboldt Park neighborhood.
The officers, 23- and 25-year-old men, were responding to several calls of shots fired when they crashed into the truck just after 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Chicago and California avenues, according to Chicago police and fire officials.
The calls turned were for a 26-year-old man was shot in the leg and foot minutes earlier in the nearby 700 block of North Harding, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital.
Two officers with head injuries were taken to Stroger Hospital in serious condition. They have since been stabilized, police said.
The driver of the truck, a 22-year-old man, was also taken to Stroger, where his condition was stabilized, fire officials said.
Police think the truck driver was working when the crash happened, and said he did not have a driver’s license.
Surveillance video showed that other vehicles in the area yielded to the cops as they drove through the intersection with their emergency lights and sirens activated, according to police. The truck driver did not, though, and was expected to be hit with several traffic tickets.
The truck started leaking fuel after the accident and a hazardous materials cleanup response was requested, fire officials said.
Jason Morgan said he was working on his laptop inside a restaurant at the corner of Chicago and California when he heard a “loud crash that sounded almost like an explosion.”
When he looked outside, Morgan saw debris flying in his direction and the CPD squad car in the middle of the intersection. Then he noticed a truck had crashed into the bar next door and saw a steady stream of gasoline leaking from the truck.
”You had people that were already walking around, and I’m sure were standing on the corner, just fleeing from the scene, running away,” Morgan said, noting the strong smell of gasoline. “No one knew if the truck was going to blow up… It was bananas.”
Morgan said he saw one officer get out of the squad car, which caught fire. The other officer had to be pulled out of the car and carried to the sidewalk. He was laid down for treatment, then put in a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance, Morgan said.
Morgan’s car was parked right at the corner where the truck crashed into the bar. A couple hours after the crash, Morgan waited outside the police tape, still unsure if his car was damaged.
The extent of the damage to the building which the truck crashed into was unknown, police said.
Both the No. 52 Kedzie/California bus and the No. 66 Chicago bus were temporarily rerouted as emergency crews cleaned up the scene, the reroute has been canceled, the Chicago Transit Authority said.