Riverside police reported that alcohol was a factor in a single-vehicle crash on Thursday afternoon that claimed the life of a 66-year-old Chicago man.
Thomas J. Blecka, of the 2900 block of North McVicker Avenue in Chicago, was southbound on Harlem Avenue at about 3 p.m. when his white 1993 Buick left the roadway and crashed head-on into a tree on the parkway just south of Shenstone Road.
Fire Chief Matthew Buckley said firefighters freed Blecka from the vehicle and that he was conscious and talking to paramedics all the way to Loyola University Medical Center.
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said a police officer interviewed Blecka at the hospital. However, Blecka was pronounced dead at Loyola at 7:42 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner, which has not yet determined a cause of death. An autopsy is pending.
Weitzel said the circumstances of the crash are still being investigated by the Illinois State Police. Weitzel said it appears that Blecka’s vehicle blew a tire when it hit the curb in the 2900 block of Harlem Avenue. It was unclear whether Blecka was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
The police chief also stated that alcohol played a role in the incident. In a press release issued by Riverside police on Friday morning, Weitzel extended condolences to Blecka’s family and friends.