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Man Driving To Work Killed By Wrong-Way Driver On Bishop Ford

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Ronnie Head, 54, of Dolton was killed in a wrong-way crash early Monday that was caused by another driver. (Head family)

Ronnie Head, 54, of Dolton was killed in a wrong-way crash early Monday that was caused by another driver. (Head family)

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UPDATED 04/30/12 10:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A motorist on his way to his job at the Chicago Tribune was killed early Monday when a wrong-way driver collided with his vehicle on the Bishop Ford Freeway.

The wrong-way driver was headed south in the northbound lanes between 111th and 115th streets around 4:30 a.m. Killed was the driver of the other vehicle, Ronnie Head, 54, of Dolton.

The grisly accident scene shut down traffic and was broadcast on morning news shows.

Ronnie Head’s wife, Sergenet, saw the video and recognized her husband’s car.

“I was trying to be strong. I kept telling myself and telling my son, ‘He’s OK, he’s OK. In my heart i didn’t think that,” she told CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey.

Sergenet Head frantically called police and then drove to Christ Advocate Medical Center, where the victims were taken.

Ronnie Head’s car had pin-balled around the road way before coming to a complete stop. Both drivers had to be cut from their cars.

Investigators say 24-year-old Kenneth Owens of Chicago, the driver who hit Ronnie Head, had been drinking before the crash. Ronnie Head, a dedicated Chicago Tribune employee of more than 25 years, was on his way to work.

“He was a hard-working man, sacrificed everything for his family,” his son, Brian, said.

Owens, the wrong-way driver, was in critical condition. Family members say he underwent several surgeries.

“He’s not doing very well,” his uncle, Nathaniel Walker, told CBS 2’s Brad Edwards. “We are really, really going through something right now.”

Walker said he doubts his nephew had been drinking before the crash, saying he never saw Owens drunk in all the years he has known him.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

The crash near 115th Street was not the only incident involving a wrong-way driver on the Bishop Ford early Monday.

In an earlier incident around 3:05 a.m., a man was driving along the inbound Bishop Ford near 152nd Street in Dolton, when his car went off the roadway and struck a tree, Illinois State Police told the Sun-Times Media Wire.

The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. He is identified as Darius Raheem, 23.

Wrong-way drivers have been blamed for numerous high-profile incidents over the past several months.

Just this past April 10, a wrong-way driver made it almost 10 miles heading west in the eastbound lanes of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). A state maintenance truck driver succeeded in getting the wrong-way motorist to pull over in the center median at Busse Road, and the chance of a crash was averted.

The driver, Michael Glomski, 54, of Chicago, was arrested and charged with DUI.

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.

The only surviving passenger, Eduardo Rodriguez, 31, said after the crash hat Vargas sped the wrong way down I-80 deliberately, screaming at everyone, “Are you guys ready to die?”

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.”

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