LYNWOOD, Ill. (STMW) — Family and friends of Mary Lacy were planning to celebrate her recent birthday Saturday night with dinner at a restaurant.

Instead, because of a tragic turn of events, they are in mourning.

Lacy, 49, of Lynwood, died instantly Friday afternoon when her SUV was hit head-on by a semi truck on Illinois 394 just north of Glenwood-Dyer Road, state police said.

Lacy was traveling in the southbound lanes near Glenwood-Dyer Road in her Ford Explorer about 4:55 p.m. when the northbound truck suddenly veered across the grassy median and hit her SUV, police said.

The impact caused the SUV to burst into flames and Lacy died on the scene, Illinois State Police Trooper Mark Hall said.

Police do not yet know what caused the 36-year-old truck driver to cross the median, and no citations have been issued against him, Hall said. Route 394 was closed to traffic for several hours after the accident.

When Susan Lacy heard about the accident, she immediately thought about her sister because she was two hours late coming home from her job as a typist for the Social Security Administration in downtown Chicago.

“So, I called the state police. They said they couldn’t tell me anything until next-of-kin had been notified. About 10 minutes later, two state troopers showed up at the front door. When I saw them, I knew. They were wonderful. One even gave me his home phone number if I needed to talk more,” Lacy said Saturday.

Mary Lacy was one of five children in the a family that lived in Chicago’s Roseland and West Pullman communities and Riverdale before settling in Lynwood.

Lacy graduated from Thornton Township High School in 1980 and was the kind of person who easily made friends, her sister said.

“She was a very nice person. Everybody liked her a lot. All the people at work thought she was very friendly. She got performance awards all the time,” she said.

“All the neighbors have been coming over to express their condolences because she’d always stop to talk with them. When our folks died four years ago, she took me and our brother, Glenn, who is developmentally disabled, into her home. She had a huge heart and was generous to a fault,” Lacy said.

Asked how the family was coping with the loss, she said, “Not so good.”

Lacy loved cats and had several as pets. Those felines were padding around the house Saturday, looking for her.

She also “had a beautiful voice and loved to sing.”

The sisters were looking forward to attending a retreat with Via De Cristo, a Christian organization, near Yorkville in November.

Arrangements are pending.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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