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Cops: Car in fatal crash may have been chased

The occupants of a car that struck another vehicle on the Northwest Side, killing two members of a late-night cleaning crew returning home from work Sunday morning, told police they ran a red light trying to escape gang members who had fired on them.

Police did recover shell casings and are investigating the circumstances behind the crash, police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak said this morning.  On Monday, the  Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled the deaths of Franciszek Opiela of Elmwood Park and Teresa Cygan of Streamwood, both 57, as homicides, saying autopsies determined they died from multiple injuries that resulted from a “pursued motor vehicle” striking theirs.

A homicide ruling merely means that a death was caused by another person. No charges have  been brought  in the case.

According to police reports, the car that struck the cleaning crew was driven by a woman who had two male passengers.

After the crash, they told police they had been driving west on Fullerton Avenue and had stopped at a red light at Keeler Avenue when a car carrying four or five men and two women pulled alongside their black Honda. The occupants of that second car shouted gang slogans and fired at least one shot at them, they said. At that point the female driver of the first car sped away, pursued by the second car, they told police.

Still being chased, they said, they turned north on Kostner Avenue, went through a red light at Diversey Avenue at about 5:15 a.m. and in the intersection hit the beige Hyundai driven by Opiela.  The Hyundai crashed into a wall of a check-cashing store at 4400 W. Diversey Ave. The Honda hit a street light and also smashed into the building.

Two occupants of the Honda were taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital.

Opiela and Cygan were on their way home from their cleaning job when they died, police said. Opiela lived on the 7800 block of West Sunset Drive in Elmwood Park. Cygan lived on the 100 block of Cambridge Avenue in Streamwood.

chicagobreaking@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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