MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) – Two people are dead and two others injured after a four-car crash in south suburban Markham.
As CBS 2's Shardaa Gray reported, police say speeding was likely to blame.
A male passenger is fighting for his life at Advocate Christ Hospital after he was pulled from a burning car. The driver was killed. The deadly crash killed another driver as well.
Nothing but gutwrenching cries could be heard coming from the Mendoza household after finding out 20-year-old Carlos Mendoza was killed in a car crash when he was driving his grey Dodge Charger. His cousin Kimberly Billegas says he had a love for cars.
"Driving vehicles and cars like that, that was his thing," she said. "Sports cars, that was his thing. He loved them, he took pictures of it."
Markham police say Mendoza was headed eastbound on 159th Street near I-294 overpass when he lost control and crossed over the median and t-boned a Mitsubishi SUV. The Dodge caught on fire, killing Mendoza and the driver of the SUV, 33-year-old Zachary Kulak of Homewood.
Kulak was a father of four children, all less than 8 years old. He also leaves behind a wife, Katelyn.
"Zack was an amazing husband and father to our four young children, who are seven, six, four and one," Katelyn said. "He had the biggest heart in the world and a larger than life personality. Zack wasn't your average dad. He honestly enjoyed every minute he spent playing with our kids, reading to them, taking them on all different types of adventures and up to the lake house. That's where he was supposed to be when we found out he was in the accident."
Katelyn said Zach had completed an internship and gotten a job at the Daley Center. The two had been together since they were 16 years old and were finally living the life they had always planned, she said.
"He was the love of my life, my best friend and my partner in everything. I can't believe he's gone," she said. "If you had the opportunity to meet Zack, he would've been your friend. He was the first person to crack a joke and everyone felt loved by him, everyone was his friend. He has literally given the shirt off his back to help a stranger in the past. Our world has been destroyed. There is a hole in our lives that nothing could ever fill."
"The BMW, in an attempt to avoid the crash, ended up striking, rear-ending a second vehicle and they both went over the median in the secondary crash," said Deputy Chief Samuel Harris with the Markham Police Department.
That secondary crash involved a nurse, who was driving the BMW, and an off-duty Cook County Corrections officer, who was driving a Hyundai SUV. He was treated and released at the scene. The nurse is hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
Police say a passenger in the Dodge was partially in flames, who was rescued by officers and transported in critical condition.
"He's in bad shape right now," Harris said.
Mendoza's cousin said he and his friend were coming home from spending the day at the mall.
"He never did anything bad, like nothing," she said.
Markham police say speed is likely the cause of the crash. They also say alcohol and drugs do not appear to be a factor.
Police are looking into whether street racing may have played a role in the incident.
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