By Alexandra Chachkevitch
6:41 PM CDT, October 16, 2013
The garbage truck involved in an accident that killed three people in Glenview this week is owned by the village of Skokie, and the driver has been a village employee for 19 years, officials said.
Skokie officials said in a statement posted to the village website that the garbage truck was on its way to the Glenview transfer station Tuesday afternoon when the accident happened. Fire engulfed the crushed car and the cab of the truck, but the garbage truck driver escaped without injury.
"The village refuse truck had complete right of way and entered the intersection, at which time a passenger vehicle violated the two-way stop sign control and entered the intersection," the statement read.
The truck was northbound on Harlem Avenue and ran over a car headed east on Harrison Street at about 12:40 p.m., police have said.
The Cook County medical examiner's office could not confirm the identities, race or gender of the victims by Wednesday evening. Two of the victims died primarily of "thermal injuries" — fire and heat — and the third died of multiple blunt injuries as well as from thermal injuries, according to the medical examiner's office. It could take up to two months to identify the victims using dental records, officials said.
Glenview Deputy police Chief Stefan Johnson said he could not confirm nor dispute Skokie's version of the crash because his department is still investigating.
"We are standing by (our) information," Skokie spokeswoman Ann Tennes said.
Tennes said the employee has been with the village for 19 years — driving garbage trucks for 14 years — and has a commercial driver's license. The driver, whose name has not been released, will get counseling as part of the village's employee assistance program and is not expected back behind the wheel of a village truck until next week, she said.
"Neither of those actions are punitive," Tennes said. "Hopefully this will help him get through this trauma."
Several bouquets of flowers had been left at crash site by Wednesday afternoon, one tied to a nearby tree.
Glenview Deputy Fire Chief Ralph Ensign said he arrived at the scene minutes after the first responders. Later, he reviewed video of the crash and fire from multiple sources.
"There was very little, if anything, they could have done in an attempt to rescue those people because of the volume of the fire," Ensign said.
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