Oak Brook

Off-Duty Suburban Police Officer Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on I-294

An off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer was killed in an Interstate 294 crash caused by a wrong-way driver early Sunday near west suburban Oak Brook, according to Illinois State Police.

At about 3:45 a.m., a Toyota Camry heading south in the northbound lanes of the tollway near Cermak Road struck a Dodge Neon that was traveling in the correct direction, state police said. One of the vehicles then hit a Chevrolet truck.

The man in the passenger seat of the Dodge was identified as 27-year-old Steve Smith, an officer with the Chicago Ridge Police Department. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Smith was also a veteran who served in the Marines. His coworkers described him as one of the promising officers in the department.

"Nothing but positives," Chicago Ridge Police Chief Robert Pyznarski said of Smith. "When he was part-time, everyone thought highly of Steve, and when he became full-time, nothing but a great guy."

Smith attended a wedding over the weekend and was expected at work at 9 a.m. Monday. His fellow officers have hung a purple and black bunting at the police department to honor him.

The Toyota’s driver, a woman whose age wasn’t available, and the person at the wheel of the Dodge were taken to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening, police said. The driver of the truck was not hurt.

No charges were pending as of Sunday afternoon as state police investigate.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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