Marilyn Flanagan wasn't supposed to be driving three clients with developmental disabilities home Friday afternoon from the Lombard social services agency she directs.
But she was caught up on her work and volunteered so the usual driver could attend an event at her son's school.
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The timing of Flanagan's trek to the clients' homes put her, and her agency's green 2005 van, in the path of a driver she says struck them head-on. The crash occurred about 3:20 p.m. Friday on Route 53 at Diversey Avenue in Addison Township and closed the road for more than two hours.
"Out of the periphery of my eye, I saw this car, and I was like 'You're getting close to the yellow line,'" and the next thing I knew, it was flying right at me," said Flanagan, executive director and president of RRAF, which stands for Reality, Respect, Appreciation and Fulfillment. The agency provides daytime programs for adults with developmental disabilities.
The driver who hit Flanagan's van, Nyles Nykaza, 23, of DeKalb, was arrested Friday and charged with DUI, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the DuPage County sheriff's office. He also received traffic citations for driving too fast for conditions, improper lane use, operating an uninsured vehicle and driving without registration.
Flanagan's right foot, calf and knee have swelled far past their normal size and two of her three passengers also were injured.
"I don't even remember screaming, but it must have been when I stepped down on my foot and realized I was hurt," Flanagan said. "At that point, you're just trying to figure out what's going on and how to take care of everybody."
An RRAF client with developmental delays suffered three broken ribs and a sprained ankle, and was released Monday from Adventist GlenOaks Hospital in Glendale Heights. Another client with autism has a doctor's appointment scheduled to follow up on a bruised knee and difficulty walking. That patient was treated and released Friday at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Flanagan said.
Flanagan was treated and released Friday at Alexian Brothers and Nykaza was taken to GlenOaks, authorities said.
Flanagan said the crash occurred as she was stopped at Diversey waiting to head south on Route 53. The right lane of southbound traffic was blocked off for construction, so all vehicles heading south were in the left lane.
Nykaza was heading north, but crossed the centerline, smacking straight into the van, Flanagan said.
The fallout from the crash goes beyond the injuries to Flanagan and two of her clients, she said.
RRAF had just finished paying off all the vehicles in its fleet of five, but the van involved in Friday's crash will need to be replaced.
"It's going to mean another three years of financing a vehicle and another $459 a month I wasn't planning on," Flanagan said.
The agency depends on state funding, paid as a certain amount per hour for each client it serves. The two injured clients have not returned to programs they usually attend, decreasing the amount the agency is due.
"I've been doing this 25 years," Flanagan said. "Nothing this bad has ever happened, but I'm used to dealing with emergencies."