A woman who was out Saturday night celebrating her 23rd birthday was killed early Sunday morning when the rideshare vehicle she was traveling in was hit from behind and burst into flames on the Stevenson Expressway, police said.
The victim, 23-year-old Jamie Ann Poulos of Berwyn, was riding in the backseat of the vehicle when it was hit and was unable to escape when the car was engulfed in flames, authorities said.
Her mother, Andrea Poulos, said she was out with some friends and already in an Uber on her way home, when the accident took place.
"Jamie was meticulous...sweet...shy...always on time for work," recounted Ms. Poulos.
The Poulos family said their daughter was working at a Starbucks and was close to finishing her college career. In their eyes, their daughter was doing everything right, including being responsible in taking an Uber and wearing a seatbelt the night of the tragic accident.
According to police, a white Infiniti sedan, driven by a 22-year-old Homer Glen resident, was traveling southbound on Interstate 55 near Damen when it struck the back of a Hyundai sedan, driven by 47-year-old Shantilal Patel of Schaumburg.
The Hyundai, which was being operated as an Uber ride-share vehicle at the time of the crash, became fully engulfed in flames after the collision. Patel and two of his passengers, 22-year-old Alexandria Kariott and 23-year-old Anastacio Morales were able to get out of the vehicle and were all listed in stable condition at local hospitals.
Police say that Poulos was unable to get out of the car and died from her injuries at the scene.
The driver was not injured in the crash, according to investigators, but a passenger in the vehicle, 24-year-old Brianna Woods, was taken to an area hospital in serious condition.
"Our hearts go out to the victim's family and everyone impacted by this terrible incident," Uber said in a statement. "We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation."
With her birthday cake still sitting on the table, the 23-year-old's family is still trying to comprehend what happened.
The incident remains under investigation.