By Bob Uphues
A 24-year-old Countryside man who crashed his pickup truck into the Des Plaines River near the intersection of Riverside and Olmsted roads in Riverside on Thursday evening remains hospitalized in critical condition.
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said more information is still being collected, but the investigation indicates that at about 6:35 p.m. on April 9, the 2003 Chevy pickup truck was headed westbound on Riverside Road at Olmsted Road when it left the roadway and apparently struck a tree before plunging over the river embankment headfirst into the water.
Photos show that the trucked tumbled into the river and landed on the driver's side, completely submerging the driver. Fire Chief Matthew Buckley said he and three other firefighters donned cold-water rescue gear and waded, tethered to the shore, into the water, which was about 6 feet deep.
They were able to remove the driver, who was unresponsive and without a pulse, from the passenger side of the truck. Once on shore, Riverside and Lyons paramedics were able to get the driver's heart beating again. He was taken to the emergency room and was subsequently admitted to the intensive care unit at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, according to Weitzel.
Buckley said the driver was later transferred to Loyola University Medical Center, where he remains critical and under intensive care.
On April 10, Riverside police revealed that detectives had obtained video of the incident from a doorbell camera mounted on the front of a Riverside Road home. The video shows the truck speeding westbound on Riverside Road before swerving onto the front lawn of a home on the north side of the street and striking a tree before careening south into the park and over the riverbank.
The pickup truck appears to have been the only vehicle involved in the incident, and the driver appears to be the only person who was inside the truck. First responders searched the area near the pickup truck to see if there were any other victims, but found no one.
The WESTAF task force crash reconstruction unit was called in to help with the investigation. Police were on the scene until just after 10 p.m. at the site of crash.