A Forest Park man who was hospitalized Tuesday morning following a fiery one-vehicle crash near the intersection of Harlem Avenue and Longcommon Road faces drunk driving and reckless driving charges from Riverside police and may face other criminal charges from police in River Forest.
Riverside Assistant Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said that Richard W. Barber, 33, blew through the stoplight at Harlem and Longcommon just after midnight Tuesday at over 100 mph, lost control of his blue Ford pickup, rammed several signs and struck a tree before exploding into flames in an alley just north of the Marathon Gas Station at 593 Longcommon Road.
Police responding to the scene reported that several nearby residents pulled Barber, who was reportedly bleeding from his head and arms, from the burning vehicle and laid him on the parkway for emergency personnel. He was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where he remained as of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. Weitzel said he had been told Barber would be released back into Riverside’s custody later in the day.
He has already been charged by Riverside police with DUI, illegal transportation of open alcohol, damage to village property and other traffic charges. In addition, they signed a criminal complaint against him for reckless driving.
An officer reported noticing a strong smell of alcohol on Barber’s breath and said that he admitted drinking five or six beers at a Forest Park bar Monday night. Police also allegedly found open beer in Barber’s truck during a search of the vehicle. Medical personnel took blood and urine samples from Barber for determine Barber’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the crash.
Riverside police later found that the same vehicle had been allegedly involved in a River Forest incident just prior to midnight.
According to River Forest Deputy Chief Kendra Sullivan, an officer spotted vehicle parked in the middle of an alley just before midnight.
“We’ve had a lot of criminal damage to vehicles and burglaries to vehicles in that area recently,” Sullivan said.
When the officer pulled behind the truck, it took off with police in pursuit. River Forest police terminated their chase at Harlem Avenue and Madison Street.
Riverside police also reported recovering several tools and lap top computers from Barber’s truck.
“At this point, we have no reports of criminal activity in that area last night,” said Sullivan.
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