UPDATED: 1/5/2011 7:35 p.m.
CHICAGO (WBBM) — A Chicago man was ticketed for negligent driving after hitting two Lane Tech High School students and slamming into the side of a sandwich shop Wednesday morning as they crossed an intersection to get lunch.
The 61-year-old man, of the 4000 block of North Oakley Avenue, was cited with negligent driving after the 11 a.m. crash in the 3600 block of North Western Avenue, police News Affairs Officer Veejay Zala said.
Eyewitness Donna Bieniek said a huge crash reverberated through Hero’s Sub Shop, at 3600 N. Western Ave., across the street from the high school.
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“There were quite a few students in the store, but where he hit the building was further from Western, not actually the front door,” she said. “A huge impact, but the building withstood the impact. The car was pretty badly damaged but the building’s old and it withstood it.”
She said neither police nor other emergency workers saw any need to close the shop, even temporarily.
Bieniek said the car never entered the store, and said the students, both girls, had been walking outside of it. Bieniek described the motorist as an elderly man.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said that the motorist and the 16-year-old student were both taken in serious to critical condition to Illinois Masonic Hospital, while a 15-year-old Lane student was taken in fair to serious condition to Children’s Memorial Hospital.
Bieniek said the man appeared “out of it” immediately after the crash, and appeared to lapse in and out of consciousness for a short time, but said he and both of the girls appeared conscious and alert when Fire Department paramedics arrived. She said the air bags in the car had deployed at the time of the crash.
The driver was also taken to Illinois Masonic in serious to critical condition, Langford said.
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Monique Bond confirmed the victims were Lane Tech High School students crossing the street at West Addison Street and North Western Avenue when they were struck. She said counselors were deployed at the school, in the event students wished to speak with them.
Lane Tech operates under an “open campus” policy that allows students to leave for lunch, which normally begins at about 11 a.m., the time of the accident.
Police said one of the teens suffered a broken ankle, while the other was treated for minor injuries. The driver was hospitalized for precautionary reasons and to undergo medical testing.
Authorities were trying to determine what caused the motorist to lose control of his car.