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Off-Duty Cop Causes Wrong-Way Crash On Lake Shore Drive, 2 Dead

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Updated 03/15/13 – 4:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — An off-duty North Chicago police officer drove the wrong way early Friday on Lake Shore Drive, causing a three-vehicle collision that left two Chicago men dead, authorities said.

The crash happened in the southbound lanes of the drive, just north of Diversey Parkway, around 4 a.m. Two SUVs and a Toyota sedan were involved in the wreck. One of the vehicles ended up on its side, and all three were severely damaged in the crash.

Investigators believe Terrell Garrett drove a Chevy SUV onto the drive at LaSalle, heading north in the southbound lanes, before hitting two vehicles between Belmont and Diversey Parkway. The off-duty North Chicago police officer was hospitalized for a broken hip at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Killed in a southbound Jeep were Fabian Torres, 27, and Joaquin Garcia, 25, friends from Little Village who were riding together.

Fabian Torres, left; Joaquin Garcia (Facebook, family handout)

Fabian Torres, left; Joaquin Garcia (Facebook, family handout)

A woman in a second southbound vehicle, a Toyota, was injured in the crash and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital but later released.

Several motorists tried to alert the wrong-way driver by flashing their lights before the collision occurred. Investigators say alcohol may have played a role in the wrong-way crash.

In a written statement, North Chicago Police Chief James B. Jackson said Garrett was arrested by Chicago police. He was relieved of police powers and placed on administrative leave, pending the Chicago investigation, Jackson said.

“While it is important to note that Officer Garrett was off-duty at the time of the accident, we have absolutely no tolerance for officers whose actions fall outside the very laws they are asked to enforced,” he said.

Police and firefighters blocked off southbound Lake Shore Drive traffic between Belmont Avenue and Diversey Harbor, creating a traffic jam that stretched for miles in the southbound lanes. Traffic even clogged streets in nearby Lakeview, as drivers sought a way around the gridlock on southbound Lake Shore Drive.

The Drive was reopened around 9 a.m. While it was closed, cars were diverted off the drive at Irving Park and Belmont, and let back on at Fullerton. The CTA also rerouted its southbound No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express and No. 147 Outer Drive Express buses while the southbound lanes were closed.