CHICAGO - Five people were killed in a pair of fiery, wrong-way crashes early Monday on the Eisenhower Expressway.
One crash involving three vehicles happened downtown about 1:40 a.m. near Wells Street, according to Illinois State Police.
A wrong-way driver on an eastbound ramp from I-290 collided head-on with another driver, causing both vehicles to erupt in flames, state police spokeswoman Gabriela Ugarte said in an emailed statement.
Both drivers and a passenger of the struck vehicle died at the scene, Ugarte said. One of the deceased drivers was a 51-year-old Skokie man, state police said. His name has not yet been released.
The deceased passenger was a 24-year-old Chicago woman, according to state police. She was identified as Warka Jabbar of the Edgewater Beach neighborhood by the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Another driver was identified as 44-year-old Rafael Delgado, according to the medical examiner’s office.
Autopsy results found the 51-year-old and Jabbar died of multiple injuries from the crash and ruled their deaths accidents, the medical examiner’s office said. An autopsy for Delgado was pending.
The driver and two passengers of a third car struck by the crashing vehicles went to hospitals with minor injuries, Ugarte said. They were three Chicago women in their 20s.
The eastbound exit from I-290 was closed until 6:15 a.m., Ugarte said.
Second fatal crash at Des Plaines Avenue
A half hour earlier, another fatal wrong-way crash happened on I-290 near west suburban Forest Park.
About 1:10 a.m., a wrong-way driver in the eastbound lanes hit a car near Des Plaines Avenue, Ugarte said. Both drivers died at the scene. The medical examiner’s office identified the drivers as Alejandra Smierciak, 21, and Maria Chavez, 29. Both were residents of the Northwest Side.
A 26-year-old man riding as a passenger in the struck vehicle was hospitalized with injuries that weren’t life-threatening. Media reports showed vehicles on fire in the crash. All eastbound lanes were closed until 6:10 a.m., state police said.