An Elgin teenager suffered serious injuries after the car he was riding in early Tuesday morning plunged into a sinkhole on a rural Kane County road and then was run over by a pickup truck.
San Juanita Pineda, 41, said she and her 15-year-old son, Benjamin Hernandez, were headed north on Thomas Road just past McDonald Road south of Burlington when they came upon a portion of the roadway that had been completely washed out. Their car fell into the sinkhole.
Pineda, who works as a carrier delivering the Daily Herald, said she and her son were working about 3:45 a.m. when they found themselves below ground and trapped in the vehicle. She was at the wheel of her uncle's Ford Taurus, she said.
"It was dark, it was pitch black, and all of a sudden I'm in the hole," Pineda said. "The impact was pretty hard. My car turned off completely. I had no emergency lights."
The sinkhole was 10 feet in diameter and deep enough that the Ford Taurus was completely below ground level, Kane County sheriff's authorities said.
Benjamin, who just finished his freshman year at Larkin High School, suffered a spinal fracture, a broken rib and a broken jaw, and he lost some teeth in the crash, his mother said. He is being treated at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, where he was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon. He remains in intensive care.
"We're going to give it time to see if he's going to need surgery," Pineda said. "We don't know if he's able to get up and walk."
Pineda said she's having chest and back pains as a result of the accident.
"I have to keep myself strong for him," she said.
Mother and son were on their way to deliver their fourth newspaper of the day when the accident happened on a dark stretch of road.
Pineda said she was driving about 15 mph, having just left a newspaper in a mailbox, before the car was swallowed by the sinkhole.
"I was conscious. My son, I had to yell at him a couple of times (to get him to respond)," she said.
Pineda said the air bags went off and she had trouble finding her cellphone. After a few minutes, she was able to locate it and dial 911.
Sheriff's deputies were sent to the scene about 3:50 a.m., but before they arrived a Chevrolet pickup truck drove over the Ford Taurus.
The driver of the pickup truck, Irvin Moreno, 25, of Maple Park, was treated and released at the scene, authorities said.
"While I was talking to 911, this truck flies over me," she said.
"About three or four minutes later, (the driver of the truck) walks up to the hole. He asked if anybody was in the car."
Fire personnel pulled Pineda out fairly quickly, but it took about 90 minutes to free her son afterward because they had to remove the roof, she said. The car is totaled, she said.
Pineda was treated at Kishwaukee Hospital in Sycamore.
Her son was taken to Delnor Hospital in Geneva and then transferred to Loyola.
Benjamin, the youngest of her four children, has been helping Pineda deliver newspapers while on summer break, she said.
Pineda, a single mother, said she also has a factory job.
"He would always ask me, 'Do you want me to come with you?' And I would say, 'If you want to,'" she said. "Now I feel like I will probably panic with any hole in the road, or going over a bump."
Sheriff's authorities said it is unknown exactly why that section of roadway was washed out, but it appears to be related to the overnight storms.
Thomas Road between Middleton and McDonald roads will be closed indefinitely due to the damage to the roadway, officials said.
No tickets were issued as a result of the crash, officials said.