The family of a 42-year-old West suburban man who was killed early Saturday while he was warming up in a state trooper's car is grieving his death just two weeks after his father's funeral.
Frank S. Caruso was in the trooper's vehicle shortly after 1 a.m. on the eastbound lanes of I-290 east of Mill Road when a gray 2010 Chevrolet Impala rear-ended the vehicle, Illinois State Police spokeswoman Maria Navarro said.
Caruso was the driver and sole occupant of a gray 2005 Nissan SUV that a little while earlier was involved in what officials believe was a single-vehicle crash, Navarro said. Relatives said Caruso had recently moved from Oak Brook to Brookfield.
The trooper, who was also injured in the accident that killed Caruso, had responded to the scene, activated his emergency lights and positioned his vehicle to block the two left lanes, Navarro said.
Caruso's stepmother, Fran Caruso of Melrose Park, said Caruso had just called his girlfriend to pick him up from the scene of the accident.
"He was driving home and he swerved and hit the median. The state trooper told him to come in his car and wait for a tow truck," Fran Caruso said. "Then some guy comes flying out of nowhere and hits (the trooper's vehicle). We believe he was killed instantly."
Officials told the family that both Caruso and the trooper were in the car, Fran Caruso said.
"His girlfriend was on her way and she couldn't get through. When she pulled up, she saw him being taken out of the (trooper's) car," she said.
Officials said Caruso was transported to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m. The trooper was transported to Loyola University Medical Center with nonlife threatening injuries. The driver of the Chevrolet Impala was transported to a hospital where he was treated and released.
The investigation is ongoing and no charges had been filed as of Saturday afternoon, Navarro said.
Frank Caruso, nicknamed "Frankie," was the youngest of Frank S. Caruso Sr.'s six children and three stepchildren. Frank Caruso Sr. died of cancer Jan. 24.
"We just lost his father two weeks ago," said Fran Caruso, who met Frank Caruso Jr. was he was 15 years old, and married his father 20 years ago. "Just the tragedy, we can't believe it. I didn't know if it was a dream, but it's real."
Frank Caruso Jr. worked as a house painter and grew up in Hillside and Westchester, she said. He had a 26-year-old son, Frankie, and a six-month-old or so baby grandson who live in Florida.
"Frankie (Caruso Jr.) was a great kid. He was never in trouble," Fran Caruso said. "All this kid ever did was work and work. He never really went out."
Caruso's brother-in-law, Angelo Calbagno, 47, said he'd known Frank Caruso Jr. for about 30 years. "He truly was a good guy. He was a family man. He never did bad things."
Relatives said they don't know where Frank Caruso Jr. had been before the accident happened Saturday morning. "We got a call in the middle of night. We're still trying to piece it together," Fran Caruso said.