News

Grandmother of 16 and 2 friends killed when Jeep flips over

A grandmother who worked as a nurse for drug addicts died with two of her friends when their Jeep hit a light pole and flipped over on the West Side, officials and relatives said today.

The three were in a red Jeep traveling east on 31st Street when it hit a curb at Western Avenue, then the pole and landed on its roof about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said.
 
Firefighters had to cut the victims, a man and two women, from the SUV. The three were taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where they were later pronounced dead, officials said.

Authorities identified the victims as Phillip Barnes, 46, of the 1500 block of Ludington Circle in Romeoville; Yvonne Tobias, 57, of the 400 block of South Homan Avenue in Chicago; and Leantwana Rosebur, 40, of the 4900 block of West Gladys Avenue in Chicago.

Barnes and Rosebur were friends of Tobias, who regularly dropped her off at her nursing job at Southwood Interventions, a substance abuse center in Englewood, said her daughter, Juanita Giles.
 
Tobias had worked as a nurse for her entire life, but more than 20 years ago she started to hang out with a different group of people and became addicted to drugs and alcohol, Giles said. In 1993, she was hit with a drug-related charge and sentenced to probation, court records show.

“Once she went in that penitentiary she changed her life around,” said Giles, remarking about how proud she was of her mother.
 
Tobias was a “well-known” and “respected” nurse at Southwood Interventions, where she spent the last 10 years of her career as a registered nurse in the detoxification unit, said center director Walter Carlson.

“It’s a very particular field to work,” he said. “They are not always the most grateful people in the moment.”

But staff at the substance abuse center had come to also know the 57-year-old as a loving grandmother of more than a dozen children, said Carlson. Giles said her mother had 16 grandchildren and some great-grandchildren.
 
“That’s where she devoted her time … to her family and her children,” said Carlson.

One of her granddaughters, Farrah Robins, 22, said Tobias often called to check up on her and ask how her children were doing in school.
 
“She said take care of your kids, work your job and keep your bank account set,” said Robbins. “So I got to live up on that.”

Though Barnes had worked in factories for much of his career, more recently he struggled to find steady employment, his father Albert Barnes Sr. said in a telephone interview.

“He was going all over trying to get work,” said Barnes Sr. “It just frustrated him so much.”

He was a father of three, who many lovingly called “Theo,” his father said.
 
“You can’t find anybody to say a bad thing about him,” said Barnes Sr.  “Everybody loved Theo.”

Family information about Rosebur was not immediately available.

As of Wednesday night, police were still investigating the crash.

chicagobreaking@tribune.com

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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