ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. (CBS) An Illinois state maintenance worker is credited with stopping a wrong-way driver on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Julie Mann reports, Illinois State Police estimate that the driver of a van heading west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 traveled almost 10 miles before pulling off to the side of the road.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Julie Mann reports
State police say the wrong-way van was first reported on Chicago’s northwest side and made it to Elk Grove Village, where a state maintenance truck driver saw the van heading in the wrong direction and started flashing its yellow lights and the van pulled along the center median at Busse Road.
State troopers were on the scene seconds later and took the driver into custody.
Police believe the driver was drunk. Charges are pending.
Wrong-way drivers have made the headlines repeatedly in recent months, sometimes in incidents with tragic consequences.
Most recently, on Feb. 22, two people were seriously injured when a wrong-way driver got onto the Kennedy Expressway wand crashed into several vehicles.
Vanessa Castillo, 25, of the 3100 block of West 41st Place, traveled several miles the wrong way in outbound lanes, Illinois State Police said. In the process, she clipped a tanker truck and a black Mazda, knocking the mirror off one of the cars, state police said. The tanker truck was also severely damaged.
Finally, Castillo then slammed head-on into a black Nissan Maxima heading the right way on the Kennedy at Division Street, state police said.
Castillo was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, while the driver into whose car she plowed, also a woman, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, state police said. Castillo was later cited for driving drunk.
On Feb. 9, three people were hurt when a wrong-way driver slammed into multiple vehicles on Lake Shore Drive near Roosevelt Road. A woman driving a Nissan sportscar north in the southbound lanes of the Drive slammed into a Toyota Corolla and a van.
The woman, Carneris Wiggins, 29, of the 2000 block of West 111th Street, was later charged with aggravated driving under the influence resulting in an accident causing bodily harm.
Early on Feb. 6, Gustavo Vargas, 29, and his three passengers had just left the Skybox gentlemen’s club in Harvey when he made a U-turn and started heading east in the westbound lanes of Interstate 80 near Kedzie Avenue. Vargas slammed his Infiniti into a Ford Explorer, killing two of his passengers – Jorge Pina, 28, and Armando Ruiz, 29, and the driver of the Explorer, Jason Wepsiec, 35.
On Feb. 3, , a suspected drunken driver headed the wrong way for 6 miles on the Stevenson Expressway. Rakesh J. Baker, 23, was first spotted driving the wrong way in a Jeep sport-utility-vehicle on the Stevenson near Kedzie Avenue, and finally slammed head-on into another vehicle on the ramp from southbound Lake Shore Drive to the inbound Stevenson around 3 a.m.
Four people were left in critical condition in that incident.
And back in December, Sergio Galez-Delira, 24, of Glenview, barreled into incoming traffic on the Edens Expressway and headed north in the southbound lanes from Elston Avenue all the way north to Glencoe. He did not hit any cars, but spurred many drivers to place terrified calls to 911.
Galez-Delira told CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez that he was drunk, and was also on anti-depressants at the time. He called the wrong-way misadventure “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever done.”