CHICAGO (CBS) — His 14-year-old daughter almost died; a young mother did, in what one suburban man has said was an accident that could have been prevented with one simple thing: a guardrail.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports Steve Prosser has begun fighting an uphill battle to get a guardrail installed between an expressway off-ramp and the retention pond where 20-year-old Emory Diaz Sepulveda died.
Diaz-Sepulveda was behind the wheel when her car slid off the eastbound ramp from the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) to Eola Road in DuPage County, and plunged into a retention pond last month.
Prosser’s daughter, Annie, was in the car at the time, and was underwater for 25 minutes.
“Probably four to five times a day, I think about my daughter underwater … alone, in the dark. And it’s really difficult, and the fact that she survived is a miracle,” Prosser said. “Thank God she doesn’t remember it, and we hope she doesn’t. She doesn’t remember anything clearly for probably a week prior.”
Annie spent three weeks in the hospital, and has been recovering from a brain injury caused by lack of oxygen.
“We just have such a long road ahead,” he said.
Besides caring for his daughter, Prosser also has headed down another path: to get a guardrail installed at that exit.
Prosser, and Illinois state Rep. Timothy Schmitz (R-Batavia) pointed out the road is just yards from the retention pond, separated only by a chain-link fence,
“I don’t think it would stop anybody, even on a motorcycle,” Schmitz said.
The exit is also unlit, and level with I-88, adding to the risks.
“It makes me very angry … and it makes me very sad that my daughter … had to go through the things that she has … and that Emory Diaz is dead. And she died a horrible, horrible death,” Prosser said. “This is something that is totally preventable.”
Schmitz said me he’s personally asked the Illinois Toll Highway Authority to install a guardrail, and has been told “it’s under review.”
A tollway spokesperson said the agency goes to great lengths to ensure the safety of its drivers, but could not say if a guardrail would be installed.
No drugs or alcohol were involved in this accident. Officials have said Diaz-Sepulveda lost control of the car as she was making the exit from the tollway.