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Medical Emergency Causes Car Accident, One Fatality

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CICERO (STMW) – A town employee was killed Thursday morning in a car crash in west suburban Cicero.

Jacqueline Merkel, 56, of the 5100 block of W. 25th place in Cicero was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital at 9:40 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Merkel was traveling southbound on Laramie Avenue in her vehicle, a 2001 Kia Sephia, when the driver of a 2005 Ford Explorer suffered a medical emergency, which caused him to lose control of his vehicle, and swerve into the oncoming lane of traffic, thereby causing the collision, according to a release from the town of Cicero.

Cicero Police and Fire departments responded about 7:20 a.m. to the accident at the intersection of 32nd Place and Laramie Avenue, according to the release. The vehicles were found in the southbound lane of Laramie Avenue near the northwest corner of the intersection.

The Kia came to rest facing northbound along the curb of the southbound lane, while the Explorer came to rest after hitting the brick wall of a nearby apartment building, after jumping the curb and the sidewalk, according to the release.

Merkel was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital where she later died and the driver of the Explorer sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn for treatment, according to the release.

Town President Larry Dominick and his wife Elizabeth said that they were very close to Merkel and were saddened by the death. “This was a very upsetting tragedy,” Dominick said. “We have known her and her family for many years. Our condolences go out to her family. It’s a loss to her family and to the town. She was well-liked and so many seniors depended on her services.”

Merkel was also caring for her elderly mother, according to the release.

Preliminary information obtained during the investigation indicates alcohol was not a factor in the cause of the crash, and no criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the Explorer, according to the release.

The investigation is still pending and being reviewed by the Cook County States Attorney’s Office.

“This is a tough case because she was so well known to people as someone who worked hard to help others” Cicero Police Chief Lori Lelis said. “She was a very nice person.”

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