By Bob Uphues
A suspected drunken driver who reportedly blew several red lights as he sped south on First Avenue on the night of May 17 remains hospitalized after crashing his 2016 Kia into an SUV backing out of a driveway near Ridgewood Road.
Police haven't identified the driver of the Kia, who was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered broken bones and injuries to his shoulder, knee and face, since he hasn't been charged yet.
However, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said he expects to charge the 24-year-old LaGrange man with driving under the influence and other offenses after he is released into police custody. When that might happen is unclear, said Weitzel, since the man was so seriously injured.
Weitzel also indicated that the driver of the Kia was on parole for a 2014 drug possession conviction at the time of the crash. He also has been arrested in the past for driving under the influence, said Weitzel, though the man possessed a valid driver's license.
Riverside police have sought a parole violation warrant from the Illinois Department of Corrections, but that agency has refused to issue a warrant at this time, Weitzel said.
The driver of the SUV, a 66-year-old Riverside woman, suffered head and leg injuries, but was released from the hospital after receiving treatment that night, Weitzel said.
According to Weitzel, witnesses claimed the driver of the Kia was going up to 90 mph as he traveled southbound from Cermak Road at about 10:25 p.m., blowing through red lights at Golfview Avenue and 31st Street before flying through the Ridgewood Road intersection and slamming into the SUV.
The impact of the crash sent the SUV spinning over the curb and up onto the parkway where it flipped over onto its roof. Firefighters had to extricate the woman, who was hanging upside down inside the vehicle by her seatbelt.
"Her seatbelt probably saved her life," Weitzel said.
The two-person crew of a private ambulance returning from a call to Loyola University Medical Center witnessed the crash and provided immediate assistance to the injured people, Weitzel said, pulling the driver of the Kia, who had been partially ejected, from the vehicle.
Police reported that the driver of the Kia "displayed obvious signs of intoxication" and was "extremely belligerent" toward paramedics and police, screaming profanities at them and at hospital personnel at Loyola.
Police shut down First Avenue between Ogden Avenue and 31st Street for more than an hour as police investigated the scene and talked to multiple witnesses.