Woman killed in fiery River North crash

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 21-year-old Joliet woman was killed early Monday in a fiery single-car crash in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Police continued to search late Monday for the driver who took off.

RAW VIDEO: Fiery crash in River North
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Raw cell phone video shows a fiery single-car crash in Chicago's River North neighborhood that killed a 21-year-old woman.

The ABC7 I-Team has learned from investigative sources that the victim was Alejandra Damian, a DePaul University student known as Aly to her friends and family.

At about 1:30 a.m., Damian was in a 2009 Nissan coupe that lost control and hit a utility pole, spun out and burst into flames on Ontario Street near the ramp to the Kennedy Expressway, police said.

Police said the driver extricated himself and ran away from the crash on foot. He could be badly injured, police said. It was immediately unclear why the driver was speeding and lost control.

Damian was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Damian's parents have no idea who was behind the wheel. At the scene of the wreckage Monday morning, a passerby found a cell phone.

"The vibrate was on. Someone was calling it. Texting it. It kept vibrating. We went inside, put it in a plastic Ziplock bag, called the police and they came and got it," said Darren Bodeker, passerby.

Surveillance video showed the car speed westbound on Ontario before slamming into the pole and erupting into a fireball. The aftermath was caught on camera by one witness. Cellphone footage shows the car split in half, both parts on fire.

Alejandra Damian, 21, of Joliet

The crash shut down the Ontario feeder ramp, a massive artery for commuters trying to get onto the Kennedy Expressway. Backups stretched along Ontario as the morning rush ramped up and drivers had to find alternate routes.

Police were back at the scene Monday night picking up more evidence in hopes of finding the driver who somehow escaped.

Damian's family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for her funeral and memorial services.


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Alejandra (Aly) Damian, 21, of Joliet

The I-Team has obtained video previously taken of the car involved in the crash and photos.

Our investigative team learned that the owner of the car involved in the crash had lent it to a friend earlier in the day.

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The I-Team has learned new details about the owner of the car and driver involved in a fiery crash early Monday in River North neighborhood.

The owner of the Nissan GTR, who operates a northwest Indiana car customizing company, said that his friend wanted to take the sports car to a charity car wash event in River North. The driver who borrowed the car and Damian then spent the day and evening visiting River North bars, according to sources familiar with the case.

After learning of the fiery and fatal crash, the Nissan owner says he immediately went to Chicago police.

The owner of the car would not provide the I-Team with the name of the person who borrowed it.
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