SUV hits crowd at suburban auto auction

March 19, 2008 At least five of the victims were transported to local hospitals in critical condition. Twelve were struck. Also injured were the driver of the striking vehicle and two first responders from the fire department.

Crestwood Fire Department Lieutenant Christopher Burke says the accident happened at the Tri-State Auto Auction in Crestwood at about 11:45 a.m.

Investigators are not sure why the driver of a Range Rover lost control. Witnesses say the SUV entered a large garage area on one side and came out the other side after hitting the people and at least one other vehicle.

Three people were taken to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn. Two of them are in critical condition.

Police at this hour are still trying to figure out how the driver accelerated and lost control.

The ambulances just kept coming. It was a chaotic scene when the Crestwood Fire Department first received the call about an accident at the Tri-State Auto Auction.

"There was several people injured inside and outside with either broken legs, lacerations to the head, or arms that were broken," said Kevin McAuliffe, Crestwood Fire Department.

"She must have hit the gas pedal and thought she was hitting the brake," said Allen Hunt, witness.

Several more people were hit before the car left the building and then came to a stop several hundred yards away. Auction day is a busy day there. Dozens witnessed or heard the accident. Many car dealers were at the auction looking at vehicles inside and outside the building.

"We're looking at cars. And then we heard a loud noise, a loud boom," said witness Raul Delgado.

A Range Rover one of the drivers was bringing through smashed into, obviously the gas pedal's stuck," said witness Rich Combs.

"It's just crashing and smashing into people and it hit another car and slammed into the wall and just took off and all over you see nothing but just bodies laying down," said Imad Shehab, witness.

"There are video cameras here. And we're hoping this was caught on some of those cameras," said Chief Timothy Sulikowski, Crestwood Police Departmen.

Police say they are also going to have an accident reconstructionist on site. Police have not had a chance to talk to the Range Rover driver yet to find out exactly what happened.

Family members of one victim wondered how this freak accident could have happened. They showed ABC7 tire tracks on a t-shirt that was worn under three layers. It belongs to 28-year-old Muhammad Bustami. The car dealer was run over twice when the Range Rover ran out of control.

"I don't know how you can lose control without stopping the vehicle. You could have thrown it in reverse, park, something. Who cares about the car? You don't own the car," said Zaher Bustami, victim's brother.

Bustami and hsi uncle were injured as they checked out the Range Rover up for auction before it suddenly accelerated.

"The cuts on his face, scratches, bruises everywhere. I mean, he's just in a lot of pain," said Zaher Bustami.
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