CHICAGO — A 29-year-old man driving the wrong way on an expressway west of downtown early Sunday caused a fiery crash that left five people dead, including himself, state police said.
Authorities identified the driver as Frederick Sy, a Chicago man who also has an address in the suburb of Northbrook.
The accident closed all the lanes on Interstate 290 for nearly three hours, said Illinois State Trooper Ivan Bukaczyk.
"A man was driving a Volvo westbound in the eastbound lanes when he collided head-on with a BMW carrying four people," Illinois State Trooper Ivan Bukaczyk said. "The BMW then burst into flames — almost an explosion. It was also hit by a van that couldn't stop in time." The van driver reportedly escaped major injury, he said.
Eve Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Fire Department, said the driver of the Volvo was taken by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Bukaczyk said troopers were able to contact the family of the Volvo driver, but not those of the people who had been in the BMW. He said friends who had been traveling in another vehicle told troopers the four were members of a family from Mexico and had no known close relatives in the U.S.
ISP Master Sgt. Tom Koch said authorities were working with the Mexican consulate to identify the occupants of the BMW.
Some witnesses said the Volvo was traveling at nearly 100 mph, but Bukaczyk said investigators had not determined its rate of speed.
"You have to realize that with a head-on like this, if both vehicles are only traveling the 55 mph. speed limit, the impact would be the equivalent of hitting something at 110 mph." he said.