Sole Survivor Of I-80 Head-On Crash Remains Hospitalized
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OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — The sole survivor of a head-on, wrong-way crash on Interstate 80 is now recovering from surgery to repair his broken left arm.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, Eduardo Rodriguez, 31, of Chicago, was the only one to survive the horrific crash early Monday morning. As of 5 a.m. Tuesday, he remained in stable condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
The driver of the car, Gustavo Vargas, 29, of Berwyn, was killed; as were two other passengers – front seat passenger Jorge Pina, 27, of Chicago; and back seat passenger Armando Ruiz, 29, of Berwyn.
Illinois State Police said Vargas wanted to turn around and go eastbound on I-80 instead of westbound, after reaching a median cut-through intended for emergency vehicles. Instead of getting into the eastbound lanes, he made a three-point turn and began heading the wrong way.
Shortly before 2:30 a.m., Vargas’ car smashed head-on into a 1999 Ford Escort wagon. The driver of that car, Jason Wepsiec, 35, of Joliet, was also killed.
A state trooper called Wepsiec’s mother, Susan Wepsiec, on Monday morning to tell her that her son was dead.
“He told me that Jason was killed in a head-on collision,” Susan Wepsiec said tearfully. “And I lost it.”
Susan Wepsiec and her husband, Jim, were in Alabama when an Illinois State Police officer called Monday morning to convey the horrible news. They immediately left for Chicago.
Susan Wepsiec says her son had left the Sauk Village home where he lived with his sister sometime early Monday morning. He was headed to visit his girlfriend.
“I’m thankful for Jason dying instantly – not that I wanted him to die, but he didn’t suffer,” Susan Wepsiec said.
Jim Wepsiec says he doesn’t understand.
“Timing is everything,” he said. “Ten seconds, maybe he could have avoided it.”
“Why would someone go down the wrong way if they already went down that road once?” Susan Wepsiec said.
The Infiniti burst into flames after the accident, and was rendered a burned out husk.
Meanwhile, State Police Sgt. Richard Decker said investigators have a pretty good idea of the cause of the crash.
“We suspect alcohol at this time. We’ve had some witnesses come forward, and we believe that they were all drinking this evening,” he said Monday.
Witnesses also say Vargas was speeding in the Infiniti.