MARKHAM, Ill.— Two people were killed and one is in critical condition in a four-way car crash that resulted in an explosion Friday night in Markham, police said.
According to officials, a person in a Dodge Charger was travelling at high speeds on 159th street near the I-294 Markham overpass, jumping the curb which resulted in a multi-vehicle crash and explosion.
20-year-old Carlos Mendoza and 33-year-old Zachary Kulak were transported to Christ Hospital in critical condition and were later pronounced dead.
Mendoza was the driver of the Charger and on the way home from the mall, according to family. Police said they have no indication that any drugs or alcohol were involved, but it is still unclear why he swerved and crossed the median into oncoming traffic.
“He just went to the mall with some friends and that’s it,” said Kimberly Villegas, Mendoza’s cousin. “He just liked to drive his cars and everything.”
One other person — a passenger in Mendoza’s Charger — is still in critical condition, according to police.
Kulak was driving a Mitsubishi down the opposite side of the road when Mendoza drove over the median into oncoming traffic. Kulak then t-boned Mendoza, leading to his death.
“[He was] someone who was the ultimate family man, dad, husband friend and son that anyone could want,” said Timothy Kulak, Zachary’s father. “We need more people like Zach in this world.”
Zachary was a father who leaves behind four children.
A secondary crash involving a BMW and a Hyundai also happened shortly after Mendoza and Kulak collided. Police said the BMW was behind Mendoza’s Charger and in an effort to avoid the first crash, ran into the Hyundai, which also knocked both of those vehicles across the median.
According to police, the driver of the BMW was a nurse who was taken to a local hospital in stable condition, and the driver of the Hyundai was an off-duty Cook County corrections officer who officials said was treated and released on scene.
Illinois State Police are handling the accident’s investigation, which includes accident reconstruction where officers will look into any black box data that may be available.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Kulak family pay for medical and funeral expenses.