1 of 2 killed after van flips over Stevenson Expressway embankment ID'd

ByStephanie Wade and the ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Good Samaritans tried to save victims killed in I-55 crash
Good Samaritans tried their hardest to rescue the victims of a fiery, deadly car crash on the Stevenson Expressway Monday evening.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two men were killed and another was critically injured in a Monday evening crash on the Stevenson Expressway, Chicago fire officials said.

The crash happened at about 8:01 p.m. in the inbound lanes of I-55 near Cicero Avenue on the city's Southwest Side, fire officials said. A car previously on I-55 flipped over an embankment.

SEE ALSO | 2-year-old boy among 3 critically injured after driver runs red light in Gresham: Chicago police

Authorities said a car flipped over an embankment and down a bridge where it hit a van.

A bystander described it like a scene from a movie.

"It goes up into the air, twists in the air two or three times and then it lands right onto the guard rail and the car bursts into flames," said James Etienne.

Etienne was driving down I-55 Monday night at the time of the crash.

"I pulled over immediately. I pulled over to the right lane, the furthest right lane and pulled on the shoulder. I waited for a clear time to just get ready to run through traffic," he said.

As he got out of his car to help, he said others did the same.

"One person, then another person, then three, then four, then more. It was beautiful to see Chicago come together like that," Etienne said.

The car was still in flames as they worked as fast as they could to get the passenger out.

"Dozens of people were scrounging around with bottles of water trying to pour it on the car. Other people were trying to pry the doors open. The more you look, the more horrific it was," he recalled. "It was a passenger still pinned in the car with his neck at an angle. The roof squished down on their neck. I mean the roof of the car has been crushed down to at least half its size."

He then realized the driver of the car had been ejected and landed further down the embankment. Etienne, who is an emergency medical technician by trade, knew he had to help.

"We have what's called a duty to act. Even if we're not on the job, we still have to do the job," he said. "I stepped out of the civilian role and said to myself, I have to do something."

The driver and a passenger in the van were killed in the crash, Illinois State Police said. A 42-year-old man who was the driver of the second vehicle was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition.

One of the victims was identified to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office as Victor Gordian, 26, of Chicago.

Authorities did not immediately provide further information about the crash.

Etienne said he wants the families to know complete strangers did what they could to help.

"Help someone. Do for someone else, what you would want someone else to do for you, if you're in that situation," he said.