Two people were killed when a wrong-way driver slammed into another car Tuesday morning in northwest suburban Rolling Meadows, police said.
The violent collision happened around 4:10 a.m. in the northbound lanes of Route 53 just south of Euclid Avenue, according to Illinois State Police. Authorities said a driver of a yellow vehicle was traveling south in the northbound lanes of the roadway when it hit two other vehicles, including a white taxi.
Two people died in the crash, police said. They were identified as the driver of the vehicle traveling the wrong way, 21-year-old Zachary Sipe of Mount Prospect, and the driver of the taxi, 64-year-old Peter Wierzbicki of Lisle. Sipe was pronounced dead at Northwest Community Hospital shortly after the crash and Wierzbicki died at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.
"Oh my god it's hard to talk about. It's so scary. It could've been me," said witness Amanda Vavra. "I was heading north and a taxi cab had just passed me and about two minutes after it passed me, that was the car that had gotten struck."
American Taxi Dispatch confirmed Wierzbicki was a driver for the company, but was not working at the time of the crash and did not have any passengers in the vehicle.
"I'm assuming he was going fishing because that's what the guy does all the time," said Joe Zayed with American Taxi in Mount Prospect. "He's an avid fisherman."
Coworkers described Wierzbicki as a loving family man.
"He is a person that, again, came to our office always friendly, always smiling," Zayed said. "Everyone in the office knows him.. knew him. It's a sad day for us. It really is."
Additional information was not immediately available as the investigation into the accident continued.
By 7 a.m., northbound traffic was still being detoured off Route 53 at Kirchoff Road.
"One of the other guys that stopped with me, I said, 'Here I am nervous about being late for work and these people just died,'" said Vavra. "He said, 'Yeah, it could've been us.'"