An Elgin woman killed Monday night when she lost control of her pickup on ice and snow-covered Route 53 was remembered Tuesday for her selflessness, outgoing nature and love of animals.
Julie Allard, 34, was on her way home from work at a Mount Prospect veterinary clinic when her vehicle plunged off southbound Route 53 in Palatine and fell at least 20 feet to Northwest Highway below. The pickup landed upside down, killing Allard and her dog, Cinnamon, who some called her best friend.
Allard worked for 11 years as a receptionist at Camp McDonald Animal Hospital, where both staff and clients will miss her, Dr. Scott Petereit said.
"She finished up work at 7:30 that night, and stopped to pick up her dog from her parents' house (in Buffalo Grove)," said the veterinarian. "She loved that dog so much. It seems kind of ironic that she would die with Cinny."
Petereit said it had to be Allard's love of animals that kept her in the job.
"You don't make much money being a receptionist and she was certainly capable of doing other things," he said. "She was so nice, so outgoing, friendly and hardworking. She was the last one out the door at night, taking care of things. Clients would say to me 'Oh, Julie is so nice.'"
Her dog was a boxer mix, and after her family probably the one Allard cared most about, said Petereit.
"Cinnamon was getting older, and Julie told me she didn't know what she would do without her. Be sure to tell everyone how great Julie was."
That sentiment was echoed by Cynthia Adams, who started working at the animal hospital in May.
"Julie was one of the most selfless young women I ever met in my life," Adams said. "She was a good teacher for me and so helpful. She really was a pleasure to be around and to work with."
Route 53 was covered with compacted snow and ice when the accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, said Monique Bond, public information officer for the Illinois State Police.
According to preliminary reports, the pickup was southbound when Allard lost control, struck a large snow pile and the highway's right median and "launched over the (concrete) wall," said Lt. Brian Windle of state police District 2.
After landing in a westbound lane of Route 14 the vehicle skidded and struck another vehicle. That vehicle's "very lucky" driver, an Inverness man, was not injured, Windle said.
Police hope witnesses can provide more information about exactly how Allard lost control and what happened.
"There was no debris and no indication of a collision with another car," Windle said.
Deputy Chief William Gabrenya of the Palatine Fire Department said 14 firefighter-paramedics worked with hydraulic equipment to get into the pickup and extricate Allard.
Firefighters working the scene took turns going into an ambulance to temporarily escape the bitter cold that dipped to 16 degrees below zero during the effort.