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1 Missing After Van Rolls Into Little Calumet River

Dolton Rescue

A van is pulled from the Little Calumet River in Dolton. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 09/29/11 11:39 a.m.

DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) — Two people remained in critical condition Wednesday morning after a van plunged into the Little Calumet River in Dolton, and one man remained missing.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, around 3 a.m., the van crashed through a guardrail and a concrete embankment, then went airborne into the Little Calumet River.

More than a dozen emergency crews were dispatched to the area near 147th Street and Wentworth Avenue after the accident, and five of the six men in the van were located.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports


One of the passengers, who wanted to remain anonymous, described the experience.

“We was rolling last night. The accident happened. We fell in the water,” he said. “We’re safe now. We’re going home.”

Two people, including the driver of the van, were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Three others were released to go home.

But while one man remains missing, the passengers said he thought everyone got out safely.

“I don’t know. I don’t know where he’s at. I haven’t talked to him,” he said. “I just woke up, and we was in there.”

The passenger said he didn’t even realize what happened until he was in the river.

“We all crawled out. We crawled out,” he said.

But Dolton police only counted five men. Since one man was missing, they pulled out all their resources, called for aid, and sent a dive team into the river.

“It’s always serious,” Dolton police Cmdr. Lewis Lacey said during the search.. “I mean, when you have somebody missing that was in a vehicle, you want to make sure that their safety is OK, so that’s what we’re looking for right now.”

When the divers came up empty handed, they called off the search just before 5:30 a.m. Four hours later, another passenger came to the scene with visible injuries on his face.

He declined to comment.

Police say speed may have been a factor in the crash, but city’s Supt. of Public Works Paul Campbell says it’s not the first of its kind.

“Maybe we should get the state to see if they can put more signs on there, ‘caution,’ right in this area somewhere, down the street or somewhere. That’s about the only thing you can really do,” he said, adding that accidents happen on the site “at least once a year.”

There is a jog in the road just feet away from the embankment, making driving in the area treacherous.

This is the second time in less than a year that the City of Dolton has had to replace the guardrail and embankment because of a crash.