By Bob Uphues
A 20-year-old man died early Thursday morning after the 1998 Lexus sedan in which he was a passenger left the roadway and struck a tree in front of 100 East Burlington St.
Police are still investigating the crash and no one has been ticketed or charged with a crime so far. But police reported that another vehicle, a 1999 Jaguar which was undamaged, was at the scene when first responders arrived.
"It's likely that the weather and speed played a role," said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, who added that it was raining at the time of the crash, which occurred at 12:08 a.m. on June 20.
According to Weitzel, the Lexus was westbound on East Burlington Street when the driver lost control and veered sideways before leaving the roadway. The car hit the tree on the driver's side rear door and then spun the vehicle around so that it was facing east on the parkway a few feet west of the tree.
The Lexus caught fire after the crash and was confined to the engine compartment, said Fire Chief Matthew Buckley who was the second person responding to the scene and said the victim was on the ground outside the vehicle when he arrived. Paramedics transported him to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:44 a.m.
The Cook County Medical Examiner identified the victim as Chicago resident Brandon Cerero. There were two other people inside the vehicle, the driver and a front-seat passenger, both adult males from Lyons. Neither was seriously hurt, according to police.
Weitzel said there were four people inside the Jaguar that was on scene when police arrived. It's unclear at this time what role, if any, the Jaguar played in the crash.
Riverside police turned over the scene to the crash investigation unit of the West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force (WESTAF).
WESTAF ought to have a preliminary report to Riverside police within 72 hours, said Weitzel. Investigators were on the scene for hours after the crash, opening up East Burlington Street to traffic shortly before 6 a.m.
Weitzel said there were no signs that alcohol played a role in crash. It's not clear exactly how fast the Lexus was going when it hit the tree, but it caved in the rear door on the driver's side and stripped the bark off of the east side if the tree.
Mary Mathis, who lives near the site of the crash, said she heard what sounded like a speeding vehicle before hearing "three crashes."
"There was debris all over my yard," Mathis said.
Thursday's crash was in roughly the same location as a high-speed crash involving a vehicle fleeing police from the scene of an ATM robbery last September. No one was killed in that crash, but another high-speed crash near the intersection of East Burlington Street and North Herbert Road in January 2007 killed two teenagers.
"Even during the day, if somebody doesn't like that you're driving the speed limit, they'll pass you," said Mathis, who has lived on the street for about 50 years. "It's nuts. It's just absolutely nuts."