4 killed in wrong-way crash on I-80

February 6, 2012 4:11:23 PM PST
Four people died Monday in a fiery crash caused by a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 80 near Kedzie in Hazel Crest

The crash took place at approximately 2:30 a.m. Emergency fire and police crews remained on the scene hours later.

Illinois State Police say an Infiniti going the wrong way crashed after the driver made an illegal u-turn. Three people from that vehicle died. They are identified as driver Gustavo Vargas, 29, of Berwyn, passenger Armando Ruiz, 29, of Berwyn and passenger Jorge Pina, 27, of Chicago. Eduardo Rodriguez, a passenger in the same vehicle, was hospitalized in fair condition.

Jason Wepsiec, 35, of Sauk Village, who was traveling in a Ford Escort going the correct way, was also killed in the head-on collision. Wepsiec was reportedly driving to his fiancee's home in Joliet when the crash occurred.

On Monday afternoon, ABC7 spoke with the sister of Eduardo Rodriguez, the only survivor of the crash.

"He just said that his friend on the passenger side he was screaming, I'm on fire, I'm on fire," said Rose Rodriguez. "He went on the wrong way and wanted to make a u-turn and they told him you're going to fast, you're going too fast and he lost control of the vehicle."

"He was a very charismatic guy," said Israel Vargas of his brother Gustavo Vargas. "He had crutches and was disabled, but that never stopped him from accomplishing what he wanted to do or going anywhere. He was always around to help anybody."

State police say they believe alcohol was a factor and the wrong-way driver was traveling at a high rate of speed -- possibly up to 100 miles per hour. Authorities also say the men in the Infiniti were on their way home from the Skybox, an adult club in south suburban Harvey, Ill.

"The first troopers on the scene say they found a vehicle on fire and pulled one person to safety but were unable to pull the other three to safety," Illinois State Police Sgt. Richard Decker said.

"They were able to rescue one of the passengers. They attempted to rescue another passenger, but the car burst into flames," said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Timothy Tyler.

Both cars were badly burned in the crash. A wheelchair was also spotted in the burned mess.

The accident shut down part of I-80 for morning rush hour. All lanes heading westbound on the interstate were reopened after crews cleaned up and investigated the accident.

Access to westbound I-80 from the Tri-State Tollway returned to normal, as well. The ramps from both the southbound and northbound Tollway lanes were reopened.