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Police seeking driver who set off fatal expressway crash

The sheer size of a tractor-trailer can lead to potentially deadly motor vehicle accidents. Coupled with the statistics of driver fatigue, substance use or even sketchy safety records, accidents involving semi-trucks can be devastating.

Recently, five vehicles were part of a pileup on the Dan Ryan Expressway. Chicago police say that the accident began when the driver of an 18-wheeler lost control. Four people were hurt in the multi-vehicle crash at 47th Street. Two other accident victims died.

Officials say the chain reaction crash that became a fatal truck accident occurred at about 11:15 p.m. A tractor-trailer jack-knifed, starting off the tragic string of events.

Following the twisted truck, a tour bus operated by a 57-year-old Naperville driver struck the trailer of the splayed truck. A 21-year-old Chicago woman driving a Pontiac tried to swerve to miss the bus crash. The car was struck by a second semi, a tractor-trailer driven by a 57-year-old Naperville man. The Pontiac slammed into a concrete barrier. A southbound driver in a minivan failed to avoid the wreckage and slid sideways into the second semi.

Sometime during the multi-vehicle crash, the driver of the first tractor-trailer was able to untwist the jack-knifed rig. The trucker drove off down the road.

A 62-year-old man in the minivan was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. Another minivan passenger, a 57-year-old woman, lived through the crash and was transported to Stroger Hospital, where she died a short time later.

One person was admitted to Stroger Hospital in serious-to-critical condition. Three others were listed in at least good condition at St. Bernard Hospital. The driver of the second tractor-trailer, the woman in the Pontiac and the tour bus driver were among the victims with less severe injuries.

Drunk-driving charges are pending against the minivan driver, as police search for the driver of the tractor trailer that set off the fatal crash. Officials think the missing driver was aware the 18-wheeler was struck before the rig left the scene.

Source: chicagotribune.com, "2 dead in chain-reaction crash on Dan Ryan," Peter Nickeas, Feb. 24, 2012

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