Serious crash in Warren Township leaves 1 man dead

Passenger told police that driver pressed accelerator instead of the brake, sending SUV into utility pole

Police car

GURNEE – Lake County Sheriff’s traffic crash investigators are investigating a traffic crash May 18 that likely resulted from a driver pressing the accelerator instead of the brake, authorities said. The passenger in the vehicle later died.

About 2:15 p.m. May 18, Gurnee police officers were dispatched to a crash with injuries on Stearns School Road near Fuller Road in Gurnee in which a vehicle had struck a pole. After conducting a preliminary investigation, Gurnee officers determined a separate crash involving the same vehicle initially occurred at Route 41 and Stearns School Road.

Because Route 41 and Stearns School Road is within the sheriff’s office jurisdiction, Lake County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

Preliminary investigation shows a Toyota Rav4, driven by an 88-year-old Gurnee woman, was traveling south on Route 41 and was attempting to make a right turn onto westbound Stearns School Road. A Kia Forte, driven by a 20-year-old Richmond woman was northbound on Route 41, attempting to make a left turn onto westbound Stearns School Road.

Witnesses reported the traffic light turned from green to yellow to red and both drivers made their respective turns, turning into one another and causing relatively minor damage, according to the release.

According to a passenger in the Rav4, an 89-year-old Gurnee man, the driver of the Rav4 then pressed the accelerator instead of the brake, causing the Rav4 to accelerate to a high speed. The driver of the Rav4 lost control and struck a utility pole near the intersection of Stearns School and Fuller Road, police said.

Both the driver and passenger in the Rav4 were taken to an area hospital with critical, life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Forte was uninjured. The passenger of the Rav4 later died of his injuries.

The deceased has been identified as 89-year-old Leonard Blum of Gurnee. On May 20, an autopsy was conducted at the Lake County Coroner’s Office. Preliminary autopsy results indicate Blum died as a result of injuries caused in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Technical Crash Investigations Team.

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