A River Forest man was killed and three of four other suburban men with him were injured when their SUV blew a tire and rolled over near Remington, Ind., yesterday, causing a backup that led to another fatal crash.
An Indiana woman was killed in the second crash.
The five students in the first crash were returning home to the Chicago area from college, the Indiana State Police said in a news release.
About 1:50 p.m., a 2003 Ford Explorer being driven by Mario L. Guagliardo, 20, of north suburban Deerfield, was northbound in the right lane of I-65 when a right-side tire blew just north of mile marker 205, in Jasper County about 60 miles south of Chicago, police said.
The Explorer veered to the right, came back left, and rolled about three times before coming to rest upright in the left lane.
Guagliardo, who was wearing seat belt, was taken to Jasper County Hospital with injuries to his hands, elbow and face, police said.
John J. Malone Jr., 20, of River Forest, seated in a rear seat but not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the Explorer and pronounced dead at the scene from blunt force trauma, the state police said. His family has been notified.
Michael D. Rende, 20, of La Grange, seated in a back seat and not wearing a seat belt, was ejected and came to rest in the roadway, police said. He was airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn and was in fair condition today, officials said.
Jason L. Blackman, 20, of Wilmette, also seated in the back seat, was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer with ankle and ribs injury. Police did not say if he was wearing a seat belt.
Jacob M. Newman, 20, of La Grange, was wearing a seat belt in the front passenger seat and was not injured, police said.
Malone was a sophomore studying business at Indiana University, according to his uncle, Mike Digilio. His nephew and the other boys, who Digilio does not know, were on their way home at the end of the semester. The spring term ended Friday, according to the university's website.
Malone had played basketball when he attended Fenwick High School and has a sister who is 2 years older, Digilio said.
"He was a good kid. He wouldn't hurt a flea," Digilio said, fighting back tears as he spoke over the phone. "That's the thing. He was a likable kid — always helpful. People liked him."
Alcohol or drugs were not a factor in the crash, police said.
The second fatal crash took place about 2:50 p.m. on northbound I-65 at mile marker 201, just south of the previous accident and also north of the Wolcott/Remington exit, police said.
A 1999 Ford Explorer, driven by Christin B. Gelenas, 21, of Valparaiso, was stopping for the backup caused by the earlier crash when a 1997 Mercury Sable driven by Shannon K. Morrison, 20, of Wheatfield, went out of control due to traffic and hit the Explorer, police said.
The Explorer rolled over and came to rest upright in the roadway, but the crash killed Christin Gelenas' mother, Melissa Gelenas, 51, of Valparaiso, who was a front-seat passenger next to her daughter. Police said she was pronounced dead at the scene of blunt force trauma.
Christin Gelenas was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer with abrasions to her knees. She was wearing her seat belt, police said.
Morrison, who also was wearing a seat belt and was not injured, was cited for unsafe lane movement, police said.
Alcohol or drugs also were not a factor in this crash.
All northbound lanes were closed for hours during the emergency response and investigation of the crashes, and state police said they were assisted by the Jasper County Coroner, Jasper County Sheriff's Department, Remington Fire and Prompt EMS. All lanes were re-opened at 5:42 p.m.
Tribune reporter Jonathan Bullington contributed.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun