Truck's roar shattered a routine Chicago day, ended 2 lives

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By SOPHIA TAREEN

Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Elosia Guerrero was heading home from a day of work at the luxury Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Chicago when the big truck shattered what had been an otherwise routine rush hour.

The 47-year-old woman, who restocked mini-bars at the hotel, boarded a Chicago Transit Authority train to the South Side, got off in Chinatown and waited under the elevated tracks for a bus to take her home.

That's when a tractor-trailer careered off a nearby expressway exit, plowed into the bus shelter and became lodged in a station stairwell, killing both Guerrero and 18-year-old high school student Delisia Brown. Twenty-one other people were injured.

Brown and Guerrero, both from the South Side, were pronounced dead at the scene of Friday's crash, authorities said.

Guerrero, a mother, was a longtime employee of the Sutton.

"She really was a sweet person," said co-worker Keishana Moore. "She was very outgoing, always smiling."

Police on Saturday reviewed surveillance footage of the crash and continued their investigation, which included questioning the 51-year-old truck driver.

The driver, whose blood alcohol tests were negative, was released from a hospital Friday night but led away in handcuffs for questioning by Chicago police.

He had not been charged with a crime as of Saturday, police said, and they would not say Saturday whether he was still being questioned.

Few other details about the driver were available, and police did not release his name. The truck was operated by Plymouth, Mich.-based Whiteline Express Ltd., the company confirmed. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.

The crash at the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop around 5:20 p.m. Friday was captured by at least one CTA surveillance camera, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. The footage was given to police, she said.

Officials have declined to release the footage.

At least three people remained hospitalized in fair condition Saturday.

At the scene, the semi's skid marks leading to the site of the crash were still visible on the street. The station's main entrance was boarded up and blocked off, hiding damage to the stairway and escalator. Authorities cordoned off areas with police tape while CTA employees examined parts of the station.

Mayor Richard M. Daley on Saturday disputed claims by some neighborhood residents that the intersection where the accident occurred, near an expressway exit, was dangerous, with quickly changing stoplights.

"It was an accident, just an accident," Daley said during an appearance at an unrelated event. He commended police, city workers and citizens at the scene who helped pull victims from the rubble.

CTA engineers determined there was no structural damage to the station, but travelers were asked to use a nearby auxiliary entrance. Elevated trains resumed stops at the station Saturday morning.

"It definitely makes you cautious," said Tykeysha Vaughn, 22, as she exited the station.