Fatal cab crash: 'It flipped four times'

Tribune reporters

A University of Chicago business school student was struck and killed by a cab that veered off Milwaukee Avenue in the River West neighborhood this morning, hit a light pole and flipped over several times, authorities said.

Eric Kerestes, 30, was thrown at least 15 feet by the impact and pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. He lived just blocks away.

Passers-by pulled the cabbie from the Checker taxi as it started on fire, witnesses said. A passenger also managed to escape.

"We got him off to a safe distance," said Dan Faraci, who was coming home from work when he came across the accident at Chicago and Milwaukee avenues around 6 a.m.

"I saw him coming down Milwaukee Avenue, I saw him hit the light pole and it flipped, like, four times," Faraci told reporters at the scene.

"The passenger got out of the cab and the cab caught fire," he said. "So a couple of us helped the cabbie out. . .The fire had just started when we got him out."

The manager of a nearby CVS said the cab also hit the store's sign. “It sounded like thunder had hit the building.’’

The cabbie was taken in good condition to Stroger Hospital, and the passenger was taken in serious to critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Kerestes, of the 600 block of North Racine Avenue, was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:36 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Kerestes was a student in the Evening MBA Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, according to a statement from the school. Kerestes, who started at Booth in the fall of 2010, was on track to graduate next spring.

A native of Bloomington, Illinois, Kerestes received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In the statement, his wife, Tatijana Stafets Kerestes, also a U of C  student, said the pair had been inseparable.

“We’ve been together since our freshman year of college, 12 years ago. We’ve been inseparable ever since,” she said. The couple married two years ago in Portugal.

Kerestes worked for Kiewit, a construction company, according to spokeswoman Daisy Roque.

He started at Kiewit by shadowing other engineers, but was hired after impressing his bosses,  Roque said.

“He was on our O’Hare project and just evolved from there,” she said in the statement.

Kiewit, located at 8501 W. Higgins Rd. near O’Hare Airport, is involved in building projects that include tunnels, bridges, reservoirs, foundations and mass transit stations in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the U.S., according to its website.

Funeral services were pending.


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