DESPERATELY looking for old accident ...

DESPERATELY looking for old accident information in Zion, IL

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Mike

Claremont, CA

#1 Jan 26, 2006
Hi, I've been trying for years to learn more about a multi-fatality car accident that I witnessed back in about 1986 or 1987. It occurred on the intersection of Edgewood road and N. Lewis avenue when a car hit a telephone pole on the east side of the southern house of the intersection.

This has stuck with me since I was a kid and I've been trying for years to learn more about it. It's always bothered me because there were several bodies on the lawn, another being pried out of the car with jaws of life, and what haunted me for years- a tarped body simply slumped against the side of the house, dead but sitting upright. I don't know where else to look or what keywords could connect me. I grew up in Kenosha but am now in California so I can't check local records physically.

This accident was traumatizing and shaped my entire perception of death (I was less than 10 at the time) and I'm DESPERATE to learn more such as the exact date and what caused the accident. Please, if anyone knows where to find info on this, knows anything about it, or can look this up locally, PLEASE let me know!
Chicago

Pleasant Prairie, WI

#2 Sep 6, 2007
I remember when that happened,it was like 85 or 86,speed and alcohol was the reason for the accident,I wish I had more info for ya.
Mike

Toledo, IL

#3 Nov 1, 2011
Man, I wish I would have checked back a year later to see that comment. I'm the same person who asked that question, and only just last month discovered records of it. You're spot-on: It was Dec. 26, 1986 and it was in fact speed and alcohol.

I have no idea if you'll ever see this (I only stumbled upon this 5-year old post by looking up more about the accident) but if you ever do, thank you. Your answer would have saved me several more year of wondering, had I caught it. XD
Hugh Girrod

Cudahy, WI

#4 Nov 2, 2011
I used to live near there, on Newcastle. Could you please provide details?
george n

Miami, FL

#5 Nov 2, 2011
i dont believe he,s talking about tupelo where all you hillbillies live hugh.
jeff p

United States

#6 Mar 24, 2012
The driver of this accident was my wifes dad. Was a old chevelle or nova
Harry

Coal City, IL

#7 Mar 25, 2012
jeff p wrote:
The driver of this accident was my wifes dad. Was a old chevelle or nova
The driver was a 21 yo male,(fatality), there were two 16 yo females, one survived, one didn't. The car was a camaro, southbound that hit the utility pole on the sw corner of Lewis & Eastwood.
JB Zion

Summit Argo, IL

#8 Mar 26, 2012
I remember the accident. I was working at Kmart on the corner or Lewis and Yorkhouse when it happened. All of the lights went out. I went to one of the girls wake (I had not known her long or well), but it was so long ago and not sure of any of their names at this time. It was related to speed and alcohol.
A heartbroken friend

Maryland Heights, MO

#9 Apr 3, 2012
That accident did happen on December 26 1986. It involved 4 people two guys and two girls...3 of the 4 died and one of the girls survived. It was a horrific accident that yes unfortunately involved alcohol and very high rates of speed. The foursome was coming from Zion to Waukegan when the car-traveling in excess of 80 mph hit a utility box on the corner of Edgewood & Lewis ave. I, too remember the horrific site as I was there as well. It became an absolute nightmare when I found out just 6 short hours later that my childhood best friend was in that car, unfortunately, not the girl who survived. David Ellis was the driver of the car if you are still looking for more information.
Catherine Serbedjiza was the you g lady who died. I have information at home I could share, I just happened upon this at work!
May no one forget the precious people Tajo died that night, I know I haven't.
Mike

Neoga, IL

#10 Jul 10, 2012
It's the original author of the topic again. I'd love any information that anyone could share; I was able to contact an extremely helpful woman at a Waukegan library who scanned several pages of the newspaper clippings and sent them to me. Because of a photo of the car which was hard to see, I had wished they were in color, but someone informed me that (at least at that time; don't know about now) that particular paper was only in black and white.

So the girl who was pulled from the trunk survived? I'm so thrilled to hear that. I would never want to bring up horrible memories of something like that but I always wished I could talk to her and learn more about what she's like; what her friends were like. I'm just happy to hear that she survived; that puts to rest a question I've been wondering about for 25 years. Even after getting the newspaper clippings about the accident and finally getting many of my questions answered, they ended while the girl was still in a coma and I never knew if the operators who were diligently trying to pry open the car had managed to save a life. So cool to hear that they did.

Friend, above me, is totally correct about the names. If you see this, I'd definitely like to hear from you. I'm going to click the link to have future posts sent to me via email (don't know why I didn't before) so if anyone has more information or would like to hear more about what I myself have collected, which is the majority of the newspaper information such as dates, times, and investigator comments, I'd love to discuss it with you.
Mike

Neoga, IL

#11 Jul 10, 2012
The victims were driver David Ellis, 27, whose daughter is named Danicka; Richard Roadenizer, 23, whose birthday party was attended before the crash, and Catherine Serbedjiza, 15, who was apparently friends with the others. Lisa Klauke was the lone survivor of the impact, and today is only the first time since that night that I've learned she apparently didn't succumb to her injuries.

The car was a Chevy Nova that was heading southbound on Lewis. Affected by alcohol and speed, they tried to pass a driver on the right side, jumping the curb and losing control before slamming into the pole and throwing everyone from the car (save for Lisa, who became wedged into the trunk).

I remember a confusing feeling of curiosity and anxiety whenever my family headed down Lewis and neared the site of the accident. I was able to tell when it was coming up because a few hundred feet before we reached it, the path of the doomed car could be seen in the form of tire tracks that were torn into the side of the road, running along a wooden fence and leading all the way up to the intersection. It amazed me how long the tracks lasted; it felt like they were there for months. It was melancholic to look at them and know that they represented the final moments of people's lives.

I'd beg my parents to slow down as we passed by the house. Aside from the landmark of the tire tracks, there was also a bus bench sitting in front of the house near the curb. It was the easiest way to tell that we were passing the correct spot, especially since it was near that bench where I, and the rest of a large crowd, stood and stared at the aftermath of the accident for what seemed like hours that night. I don't mean to speak casually about the departed, but it was the first time that I had ever seen a dead body (though relatively covered) and I was both fascinated, frightened, and sad at the same time. Once I learned the date I was able to put together that I had only turned 8 just two months prior, and the imagery made me very quiet when I'd let my thoughts drift back to the accident when I was back in school the next month.

I remember that as I watched the rescue operators do their job, my mom told me what the "jaws of life" were, and how scary it was that there was someone still inside the mangled wreck of the car. I was amazed at how much glass was in the intersection, and how that entire concrete utility pole was just split in half. I remember the police officer directing traffic away from the intersection, and how they blocked off the south end several blocks away which had made us travel west / northwest through the neighborhood until we were able to park and get out on foot to see what was happening. I remember seeing part of a foot sticking out from underneath the tarp nearest to us, which I think was near a sidewalk. I remember seeing shoes in the road and being scared that something could be powerful enough to throw them from a person like that.

More than anything though, I remember the body that was sitting upright, leaned back against the east side of the house, and trying to make mt child's brain understand how such a thing was even possible, and playing frightening and macabre thoughts of whether the residents of the house heard the thump, as well as the screech and the exploding crash that caused everything.

In short, I was a kid that was seeing death for the first time, and grappling with how powerful and final it is. It was hard to comprehend that there were actual people under those tarps, who were just alive 15 minutes ago and whose forms looked as if they could get up again any second. Sadly, of course, they didn't- and it's something that, even as a mere onlooker who only happened to be there that night because of an after-Christmas trip to Chuck E. Cheese, a trip that was cut short because the power eerily went out and forced the place to close early- had a profound impact on my childhood.
Was there

Phoenix, AZ

#12 Feb 20, 2013
This was a bad accident indeed. It was a long time ago but I remember that the father of the driver, David Ellis was a Waukegan Fireman at the time. He would have been on the responding fire engine save for it being his day off. It would have been terrible for him to respond to that call and find his son there.

The young lady who survived was very fortunate to have been caught on the rear deck behind the back seat and thus not violently thrown from the vehicle as it spun around and broke the telephone pole into three pieces. It was learned from Com Ed that the pole in question was designed to take a vehicle impact of at least 90mph. The Nova was so badly damaged that it was difficult at the scene to determine just what model the car was.

This was a terrible tragedy for all four families involved. I always wondered if Ms. Klauke fully recovered from her injuries.
Mike

Newton, IL

#13 Mar 8, 2013
So there was never any official word in the paper about Ms. Klauke surviving? I know that she hung on for a while in the hospital but it's been hard to determine whether she ever came out of her coma. I really hope she did; it would be nice to know that at least some good came out of that tragedy.

It's very interesting to hear about the utility pole specifications. I thought I remember it being broken in half just above where the car had impacted, but I guess I didn't focus on it and was only 8 so I'd accept being mistaken about that detail (there was also some debate between my family about where we stood during the jaws of life moments- my parents thought that we stood across the street, which would have made more sense, but I distinctly recall us walking along the south side of the road and merging with the crowd that was there at the south corner, right by the bus bench that was removed a few years later).

It was incredible- a truly moving and insightful experience- to see newspaper clippings from that time. It filled several pieces of a decades-long puzzle that I'd been struggling to complete. You who have spoken about this with me here on this site have been a tremendous help as well!
Mike

Newton, IL

#14 Mar 8, 2013
Also, how sad to hear about David's father. It's something of a small miracle that he wasn't one of the firemen who had to respond to that accident. I hope that he and the other families were able to continue on with their lives without the pain becoming too overwhelming.
Was there

Phoenix, AZ

#15 Mar 9, 2013
Mike wrote:
So there was never any official word in the paper about Ms. Klauke surviving? I know that she hung on for a while in the hospital but it's been hard to determine whether she ever came out of her coma. I really hope she did; it would be nice to know that at least some good came out of that tragedy.
It's very interesting to hear about the utility pole specifications. I thought I remember it being broken in half just above where the car had impacted, but I guess I didn't focus on it and was only 8 so I'd accept being mistaken about that detail (there was also some debate between my family about where we stood during the jaws of life moments- my parents thought that we stood across the street, which would have made more sense, but I distinctly recall us walking along the south side of the road and merging with the crowd that was there at the south corner, right by the bus bench that was removed a few years later).
It was incredible- a truly moving and insightful experience- to see newspaper clippings from that time. It filled several pieces of a decades-long puzzle that I'd been struggling to complete. You who have spoken about this with me here on this site have been a tremendous help as well!
As far as I know she survived, but I don't recall anything about it in the papers. She had already been removed from the scene upon my arrival.
Was there

Phoenix, AZ

#16 Mar 9, 2013
One more thing, there were no skid marks left by the Nova, so the broken utility pole was used to estimate the minimum speed at the time of impact. Had control of the vehicle not been lost I don't believe they would have been able to stop in time for Yorkhouse Rd and this tragedy could have been worse.
Mike

Bridgeport, IL

#17 Mar 10, 2013
It's interesting to talk to someone else who was on the scene. I don't remember seeing skid marks on the street, but there was definitely a long and ragged path in the grass on the West side of Lewis, which I always assumed was from their car (and which would corroborate the witness' statement that Ellis passed her car on the right side). I guess they must have just lost control as they skidded along the grass but were going too fast to put on the brakes and miss the pole.

Do you remember what the scene was like when you got there? What the response team was doing and if the bodies had been removed from the lawn? By the time we left the deceased were still there and the crew was still trying to get to the survivor inside the rear of the car (who, at the time, we didn't know had survived).
Mikey

Chicago, IL

#18 Mar 15, 2013
Was nowhere near the accident yet now I'm much emotionally involved as a truck driver, driven past the scene of the address stated here several times.
A Winthrop Harbor resident for a few years now, I plan to visit Mr. Roadenizer's grave at Mt.Olivet this weekend.
You have me caught up in this accident now.
God Bless, please don't drink and drive.
Was there

Phoenix, AZ

#19 Mar 15, 2013
Mike wrote:
It's interesting to talk to someone else who was on the scene. I don't remember seeing skid marks on the street, but there was definitely a long and ragged path in the grass on the West side of Lewis, which I always assumed was from their car (and which would corroborate the witness' statement that Ellis passed her car on the right side). I guess they must have just lost control as they skidded along the grass but were going too fast to put on the brakes and miss the pole.
Do you remember what the scene was like when you got there? What the response team was doing and if the bodies had been removed from the lawn? By the time we left the deceased were still there and the crew was still trying to get to the survivor inside the rear of the car (who, at the time, we didn't know had survived).
Upon my arrival the three bodies were lying on the lawn. The fourth had been removed from the wreckage and transported to the hospital already. It was the strangest thing, they were all facing in the same direction. There were no skid marks on the street, that is why we estimated the minimum speed at impact from the damage to the telephone pole.
Was there

Phoenix, AZ

#20 Mar 15, 2013
It's really a shame but these types of accidents were all to common back then. Within 3 months of this accident there was another accident on Lewis Ave South of Yorkhouse Rd in the overnight hours involving a white Chevy IROC Camaro. It was driven by a male who lost control at high speed and who survived but his female passenger was ejected and thrown across all four lanes of Lewis Ave. She did not survive if my memory is correct.

Seat belts were not in wide use then and could have saved lives in these two accidents. Cars are also much safer today then they were back then.

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