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Updated 08/28/11 – 3:54 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – A mother of five who was also raising five nieces and nephews was killed in a strange overnight auto accident.
As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, the tragedy also claimed the life of her oldest son and her boyfriend.
For reasons that are still unclear, their car simply stalled in the center lane of the Bishop Ford Freeway near 130th Street, a mishap that set off a deadly chain of events.
The family’s Chevy Cavalier was mangled almost beyond recognition, hit from behind by a Toyota Highlander at around 3 a.m. Sunday. The driver of the SUV couldn’t see the Cavalier, because it didn’t have any lights on.
The impact claimed the lives of all three in the Chevy.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
The victims include: the car’s driver, 19-year-old Derrick Young; his mother 34-year-old LaToya Williams; and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Jermaine Garner.
Williams, a front seat passenger in the Cavalier, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car, police said. Garner and Young were wearing seat belts, but had to be cut out of the car due to the severe damage to the vehicle.
All three were taken to Roseland Community Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.
Williams had worked for UPS for more than 13 years and was raising ten children – five of her own and five others she took in for a cousin facing tough times.
“She always would say that ‘I do this for my kids. I want my kids to see something other than what they see every day.’ So she worked to provide for them so that they could have better,” Williams’ niece, Sheena Ray, said.
Outside her Pullman home, Williams’ grief-stricken family was consoling one another on Sunday. They were concerned for her children, ages 13 to 17, as well as the younger nieces and nephews.
They also had praise for her son, Derrick, who graduated from Fenger High School last year and made sacrifices to help his family get by.
“He was gonna go to college, but he chose to get a job so he could help his mom out and we would all just tell him how proud we was of him,” Ray said.
Jermaine Garner had also worked for UPS and only recently began dating Williams. Outside his Calumet City apartment, neighbors said he was the kind of guy you could rely on.
“Jermaine was a very quiet, nice guy … a fun-loving guy. He was a good guy,” neighbor Clarence Freeman said.
Illinois State Police said there was no that indication drugs or alcohol played a part in the crash. Williams family was vowing to carry on , following the example she set in life.
“She’s an irreplaceable person and we’ll just have to stick together as a family to continue to raise her children and, you know, lead them on a path that I know she would continue to do and she would want us to do,” Ray said.
The driver of the SUV, a man in his 60s, was not cited for any traffic violations, as police said he could not see the stalled Chevy in the dark, because it didn’t have any lights on at the time. His 38-year-old daughter, who was a passenger in the SUV, suffered a minor injury in the crash.