OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) — The only survivor of the wrong-way crash early Monday on Interstate 80 says he knows he’s a lucky man – and he says one thing that sticks out in his mind are the words of the car’s driver.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, Eduardo Rodriguez, 31, of Chicago, spoke from from his hospital bed at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
Rodriguez said he and three other men were returning to their homes from an evening they had spent at bars, and the Skybox strip club in Harvey, back to their homes.
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 near Kedzie Avenue. Instead of getting into the eastbound lanes, he made a three-point turn and began heading the wrong way.
But Rodriguez said the driver of the car actually decided to get on I-80 the wrong way.
Rodriguez says Vargas kept saying the same thing.
“He was screaming, ‘Are you guys ready to die?'” Rodriguez said. “That’s what he was saying.”
Why did Vargas say and do such a thing?
“I don’t know,” Rodriguez said. “He was crazy. I don’t know.”
Shortly before 2:30 a.m. Monday, Vargas’ car smashed head-on into a 1999 Ford Escort wagon. The Infiniti burst into flames after the accident, and was rendered a burned out husk.
“The car caught on fire. My clothes burned,” Rodriguez said. “I saw one of my friends. He asked me for help, and I tried to help him, but I couldn’t help him.”
Vargas, 29, was killed in the crash, as were two other passengers – front seat passenger Jorge Pina, 27, of Chicago; and back seat passenger Armando Ruiz, 29, of Berwyn. The driver of the Ford Escort, Jason Wepsiec, 35, of Joliet, was also killed.
Rodriguez says he fortunate as the sole survivor.
“I feel like a lucky man,” he said. “It wasn’t my time, I believe.”
Police believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, and witnesses also say Vargas was speeding in the Infiniti.