Man injured in First Ave. crash involving wrong-way driver

Pickup truck reportedly crossed center 'numerous' times while northbound

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By Bob Uphues


A 25-year-old Chicago man has been released from the hospital after suffering what police called "serious" injuries when a pickup truck northbound on First Avenue at Waubansee Road in Riverside crossed the center line and struck his southbound vehicle head-on during a snowstorm at about 9:05 p.m. on Dec. 29.

Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said his officers were en route to First Avenue when the crash happened after dispatchers received calls of an alleged reckless driver whose 2003 Dodge pickup truck had crossed the center line on First Avenue "numerous" times while northbound from 63rd Street in Summit.

According to police, witnesses stated they had been following the pickup truck from Summit and had called 911 to report erratic driving along the roughly five-mile route.

The truck slammed head-on into a 2017 Chevy Cruze, which was traveling south in the southbound lanes of traffic. The Chevy's driver was taken by paramedics to the hospital with non-life threatening but traumatic injuries, according to Weitzel.

The 26-year-old Burbank man who was driving the pickup truck was not seriously injured in the crash and refused transport to a hospital.

Police issued the pickup truck driver several traffic citations, including driving in the wrong lane. It is not certain at this time whether the driver of the pickup was under the influence of any intoxicants.

According to a press release issued by police, "Riverside officers detected impairment and noticed certain markings on his body consistent with drug use."

However, police also confirmed that the pickup truck driver was diabetic, and a breath test revealed the man's blood-alcohol content to be .00. The driver did submit to a urine test, which has been sent to the Illinois State Police Crime Lab for analysis.

Police may charge the Burbank man with driving under the influence of drugs, depending on the results of the lab results, Weitzel said.

First Avenue between Ogden Avenue and Ridgewood Road was shut down to traffic for about an hour while police investigated the crash.

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