Fiery crash kills 2; 3 rescued

December 27, 2011 (CHICAGO)

East Chicago residents Fernando Hamilton, 32, and his wife, Juanita Hamilton, 31, died in the crash, which happened around midnight after a car went out of control on the 100th Street bridge near Commercial Avenue and hit another vehicle.

"I don't know what to do, I was like in shock. There was nobody moving. My sister was saying, but if you go, what if it blows up," said Alma Cabrera, witness.

The deadly crash had just happened when Cabrera and her sister came upon the two vehicles -- a BMW in flames with three people trapped inside and a Ford Taurus with two occupants. They called 911 but almost simultaneously 4th District Officers Brian Stoyak and Harold Mason drove by.

"It was chaotic. It was just very panicked," said Officer Mason. "We could hear them screaming and we really wanted to get them out of them as quickly as possible."

The officers immediately went to work, trying to get to the passengers in the burning vehicle. An ambulance and even more help arrived minutes later.

"We basically had to break the back window to get the passengers some fresh air. My partner had to go through a passenger side door, yanking the driver and the front passenger out," said Officer Stoyak.

Despite their best efforts, Fernando and Juanita Hamilton died. The BMW's third passenger was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, as were the Ford Taurus' two adult male passengers.

Police say it appears that the BMW, which was traveling west on 100th Street, had just crossed the bridge near Commercial when the driver lost control and slid into the opposite lane. It crashed head on into the Taurus. Weather conditions may have been a contributing factor.

The three survivors are all in serious to stable condition.

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