DUI charges may be filed by the Illinois State Police in a wrong-way crash in the eastbound lanes that killed one person and injured several others around 4:40 a.m. Sunday. A 22-year-old driver from Chicago entered the eastbound Harlem Avenue ramp going west. His SUV struck a car and a passenger van filled with musicians from a band returning from a gig in Wisconsin.
Juan Carlos Salazar, 29, a passenger in the front seat of the van, was declared dead at 5:25 a.m., the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed.
Salazar was the guitarist for the group Escuela de Racho and lived in the 6300 block of S. Archer Avenue Chicago. The band’s passenger van was left straddling the concrete median between east-and west-bound lanes. Traffic eastbound and two lanes of westbound traffic were closed until 10 a.m. Sunday.
The wrong-way driver entered the eastbound lanes on the Harlem Avenue ramp travelling westbound. The crash occurred near the Desplaines Avenue ramp.
The alleged wrong-way driver and four other band members were taken to Loyola University Medical Center. DUI charges from the Illinois State Police were pending for the driver as well as reckless homicide.
The Forest Park fire department helped extinguish flames from the accident. Forest Park’s police department help divert traffic off the expressway.
This is the second time a wrong-way driver has caused a death on the I-290 by entering the Harlem ramp. In September 2013, a wrong way driver entered the eastbound lanes off the Harlem ramp and killed two women. Miguel Rico, 20, of Chicago was charged with DUI.
“Unfortunately it happens on all of the expressways way too often,” said Forest Park Deputy Police Chief Thomas Aftanas.