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2 drag racers die, 3 injured in Will County explosion

Investigators in Will County speculate that an early morning drag race between a 2002 Ford Mustang and a 2006 Chevy Trailblazer started with alcohol and ended in flames. Two young men died and three other men in their 20s were injured in the fiery, fatal car accident that is blamed on speeding and drunk driving.

The vehicles were racing through Will County around 2 a.m. Police say the cars sped through an intersection at Moni and South Center Drives, crashed into and through a chain-link fence and slammed into a crude oil pipeline. The high-speed accidents touched off an explosion and fire.

The young men who died in the Ford Mustang, ages 21 and 25, were trapped inside an inferno. Two occupants of the Chevy Trailblazer, 22- and 20-year-old male passengers, scrambled out of the SUV and pulled the unconscious 21-year-old driver to safety. A report from sheriff's deputies said accident survivors were forced to the edges of the fenced enclosure as the flames rose and spread. The three crash victims were able to escape by climbing over the fence.

Emergency responders said two of the men who escaped fiery deaths were severely burned "from the waist down." The third, an SUV passenger with less-serious injuries, was transported with the other accident victims to Silver Cross Hospital. The three survivors of the explosion and fire confessed to authorities at the hospital that the group had been drinking together. The five men apparently agreed to drag race after partying at a bar.

Two hospitalized accident victims were later transferred to a burn unit at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood. One man, the 22-year-old passenger who apparently suffered minor injuries, was released after treatment. Friends of the accident victims told reporters that the five men had been friends since junior high school.

Will County investigators have not reported what charges, if any, will be brought in the case.

Source: suntimes.com, "Drag racing led to fatal pipeline crash in Will County, police say," Brian Stanley, March 6, 2012

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