Man, daughter killed in fiery crash in Chicago Heights

Sarah Schulte Image
Monday, August 15, 2016
2 killed in fiery crash in suburbs
Jose Juan Romero, 31, and his daughter were killed in the crash in Chicago Heights.

CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- A 31-year-old man and his daughter were killed in a fiery car crash early Sunday in south suburban Chicago Heights.

At about 8 a.m., two vehicles crashed near Chicago Road and Lincoln Highway. When officers arrived, a black BMW was engulfed in flames. A witness said one of the vehicles t-boned the BMW.

Witness Elaine Anderson, 48, and two friends helped pulled three children out of the back seat of the BMW before it caught fire. They were on their way to church when they saw the crash.

"It kind of looked like a movie, you know? You driving and you seeing this car move real fast and you not knowing if they going to stop. Unfortunately he did not stop he blew through the red light," Anderson said. "You don't think, you react. We stopped our car in the middle of the street and ran and tried to help."

The BMW and a black Nissan were involved in the crash. It was immediately unclear what caused the crash, but a witness said one of the vehicles was speeding and ran through a red light. The BMW jumped the curb, hitting the light pole and landed on the Chicago Heights Veterans Memorial.

Anderson said they tried to rescue the driver and his front seat passenger, but the flames were too hot and people were yelling for her to get back. Anderson said she felt helpless.

"I looked back in horror because you could hear the people yelling for help," Anderson said.

Police said the driver, 31-year-old Jose Juan Romero, and his daughter, identified by family a family friend as Maritza Romero, were killed. The medical examiner's office has not confirmed the victims' identities.

While Anderson and other Good Samaritans could not save them, she is thankful she was able to rescue Romero's other children.

"I don't feel like a hero or nothing. We helped where we could," Anderson said.