Car slams into Maywood home, killing girl

September 27, 2011 (MAYWOOD, Ill.)

It happened just after midnight at 846 South 19th Avenue.

The medical examiner has identified the victim as Dominique Thomas, 14, who was asleep on a living room couch. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Family members were grieving the loss Tuesday. The victim's brother, Bryant Thomas, said he heard the noises and the crash that killed his sister. It all happened when the driver of a rental car with Texas plates lost control and slammed into the family's front window.

"All I heard was a loud crash. Then, I came downstairs, and I saw the car's headlights in the living room, and I knew my brother and sister were down there sleeping," he said.

Thomas said his 12-year-old brother, Lovan, also sleeps on the couch and was hit by the car. ABC7 was told the boy was in stable condition at Loyola Hospital with bruises, cuts and swollen eyes.

Thomas says he usually sleeps on the living room floor, but he happened to be upstairs at his cousins' home at the time of the crash.

His parents, who were also inside the one-bedroom unit, were not harmed.

Later Tuesday, the hole that the car left was boarded up, and marks could be seen in the grass where the vehicle slammed into the living room.

"She [Dominique] was a loving girl. She just started high school, just graduated eighth grade last year. She had her whole life ahead of her," Bryant Thomas said tearfully.

Other family and friends also were remembering Dominique Tuesday.

"She was a great girl with a great future ahead of her, just by being in programs and trying to be the best that she could be," said Barbara Cole, Maywood Youth Mentoring Program.

"She was a very religious person. She would help anybody. She would do anything for anybody. And this is a devastating thing for this to happen right here," family friend Latonya Wilson said.

"Everybody liked her. She was that kind of girl. Everybody wanted to be with Dominique, you know. Just started high school this year," aunt Diane Moore said.

Dominique Thomas was a student at Proviso East High School where crisis counselors were available Tuesday.

Police say the driver of the 2010 Hyundai Elantra had been shot at before the crash, and witnesses report seeing him slumped over the steering wheel. He is now recovering at a hospital, police say, and has told investigators a male passenger fled the car after the crash.

Authorities say just in the last ten days, there have been at least two other fatal shootings on the same block. Neighbors blame drug activity and gangs for what they say is near nightly gunfire in the neighborhood.

"People can't even feel safe in their own home. They just can't. They can't go to sleep or nothing," said Brittany Hill, victim's friend.

"It's got to stop. This is like a state of emergency, the way the street are, the gangs or whatever's happening with the shootings, it's ridiculous. Something has to happen. We need help in this community," said neighbor Carl Foreside, who is also a firefighter.

Authorities say they are investigating.

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