Three dead in Prospect Heights crash
Three teens died and one was injured Saturday when the stolen car they were in hit two trees and broke into pieces in Prospect Heights, startling neighbors who awoke to the gruesome scene.
Prospect Heights police said an investigation was continuing into the deaths of a male from Mount Prospect and two females from Arlington Heights, all 16. One of the females was the driver.
The surviving male, a 17-year-old from Mount Prospect, was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. He is expected to live, but his condition was not made public.
After some difficulty determining who the victims were, Prospect Heights Police Cmdr. Eric Lundt said, all four had been tentatively identified, but names were not released pending notification of families.
"As a father, I find this very upsetting, and as a police officer very frustrating because no one called to say that they have missing children," Lundt said.
The bodies of the three are expected to be autopsied today by the Cook County medical examiner's office. A toxicology report likely could take up to 10 weeks, Lundt said.
Police said the 2002 Honda Accord that crashed was reported stolen from a Mount Prospect homeowner Saturday morning. Mount Prospect police could not say whether the surviving teen would be charged in relation to the stolen vehicle until the investigation is completed.
The crash happened just across the street from the Prospect Heights police station. One Mount Prospect officer at the scene said it was one of the most gruesome he had seen in his career.
The Accord ended up in Scott Nielsen's front lawn, pieces scattered far and wide. Part of the car bent a flagpole, which was still flying an MIA flag in honor of Nielsen's father.
Nielsen said he awoke to the sound of the crash, then came outside and saw the bodies of three teens on the lawn and another teen inside what was left of the vehicle.
"It sounded like a bomb went off," Nielsen said. "And then I saw this car that almost went into our house. We were very lucky that the tree was there."
After 19 years in Prospect Heights, Nielsen said he's never heard of anything so gruesome happening in the area, let alone on his front yard. He also wasn't aware of any local events or parties that may have kept the teens out so late.
Nielsen's 15-year-old daughter, Laura, said she, too, woke up with the sound of the crash and looked outside.
"I didn't know what to think, but I was hoping that everyone was OK."
Twelve-year-old Rachael Rowe, who lives across the street, said, "I was sleeping and I heard a giant boom, and I was really scared. I woke up this morning and saw the car split in two, and it really scared me."
Rachael's cousin, 27-year-old Ashley Dallas, said Rachael at first thought she heard laughter outside. But Dallas said she had to explain that that was screaming, not laughter.
• Daily Herald photographer Brian Hill and staff writer Marie Wilson contributed to this report.