By Jean Lotus
After a fatal crash in the eastbound lanes on the Eisenhower Expressway early Sept. 7, Forest Park's police, fire and ambulance crews were immediately on the scene to rescue survivors, extinguish a car fire and divert traffic through Forest Park until the crash scene was cleared away by state police and investigators.
Chicago resident Miguel Rico, 20, was reportedly drunk when he drove his red Dodge van the wrong way down an exit ramp and entered the eastbound I290 expressway. Near the bottom of the ramp the van struck a blue Ford, killing the driver and one of her two passengers.
Forest Park Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas said a Forest Park officer on patrol observed Rico's van driving northbound on Harlem and saw Rico turn into the wrong lane.
"One of our officers witnessed the van going the wrong way," Aftanas said.
The Forest Park officer entered the westbound lanes hoping the van would exit, Aftanas said.
"But then he radioed that he believed the van had crashed. The officer had to go to First Avenue and turn around," Aftanas said. A Chicago police officer also called in the crash after witnessing it on the Ike, Aftanas said.
After the crash, the Ford rolled over, came to rest on its side. The van caught fire. Forest Park's fire department was first on the scene at 1:52 a.m., Aftanas said, putting out the car fire and rescuing a female passenger, who was the only survivor in the Ford.
In addition to Forest Park, emergency personnel from North Riverside, Oak Park and River Forest responded to the scene.
"We had four officers and two auxiliary officers at the scene," Aftanas said. Oak Park police helped divert traffic at Harlem Avenue, he added.
Killed were Monica Hernandez, 20, of Maywood, and Briana Resto, 19, of Northlake. They were transported to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where they were pronounced dead, the Cook County Medical Examiner's office said.
Forest Park police and Illinois State Police diverted eastbound Ike traffic at Desplaines Avenue through Forest Park along Harrison Street to the Harlem on-ramp until about 6:45 a.m. Saturday.
Because of the traffic detour along Harrison, events at the Park District of Forest Park Kids triathlon were delayed from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Rico and a 20-year-old man from Cicero, who was riding in the van with him, were hospitalized with minor injuries. Rico was charged with aggravated driving under the influence on Sunday.
Because Rico had an outstanding warrant for a 2011 drug possession probation violation, he was held without bond. He was scheduled to appear in court for a bond hearing for the aggravated DUI charge Monday.
"That's a traffic situation that happens when people drive intoxicated," Afatnas said. "It's a decision made in a split second to drive drunk. Until they decide otherwise, it will continue to happen."
The female victims were friends who were enjoying a night on the town, relatives told Chicago media sources. The women were high school friends from Proviso East High School.
The Forest Park police will be conducting traffic safety road checks for two upcoming weekends to stop drivers suspected of DUI, Aftanas said.
"Two young girls are dead as a result of a horrible decision," he said.