Vehicle strikes bystanders at suburban auto auction, 15 hurt

Thursday, March 20, 2008

CRESTWOOD, Ill. -- An out-of-control sport utility vehicle plowed into a crowd at a suburban Chicago auto auction Wednesday, injuring 15 people, police said.

Five of the victims were in critical condition Wednesday evening with injuries that included a crushed chest and legs, said Crestwood police chief Tim Sulikowski. Two firefighters also were hurt while helping victims, he said.

"It was pandemonium" as rescue workers made their way through several hundred people who were leaving or helping the injured at the Tri-State Auto Auction, said Crestwood fire chief Jon Bruce.

"People were screaming, moaning, laying on the ground," auction shopper Tom Schroeder told the Chicago Tribune. "Employees were running around telling people not to move."

The incident occurred shortly before 11:45 a.m., when an employee driving a Range Rover into the auction building lost control of the vehicle. It suddenly sped up, hit a group of bystanders and struck a minivan before going through a doorway and hitting another group of people.

Bruce said it was not yet clear what caused the employee to lose control.

A woman who answered the phone at the auction house early Wednesday afternoon said the business was "not giving out any information right now."

The company's Web site shows a large, open auction site where bidders can walk among vehicles for sale.

Crews from 15 other cities responded to the call, Bruce said.

One firefighter's injury was exposure "to large amounts of blood," considered hazardous because of the possibility of infection, he said.

The other firefighter suffered a back injury while lifting a patient.

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