(RIVERSIDE) Two men are facing drunken driving charges after a van hit a police car that was blocking traffic to investigate an earlier DUI crash early Sunday in west suburban Riverside.
Authorities were called to First Avenue and Wabaunsee Road at 4:13 a.m. after a Nissan car crashed into a tree and its driver was ejected into the forest preserve, according to a statement from Riverside police. Officers arrived to find the driver, 25-year-old Roman W. Matlak, lying on the ground “severely injured.”
About 10 minutes later, while officers were investigating that crash, a Chevrolet van driven by 37-year-old Gregorio Torres hit a North Riverside police car that was getting into position to block all southbound lanes of First Avenue at the Burlington Northern railroad overpass, police said. The van hit the rear of the squad car, causing it to spin 360 degrees, before continuing into the forest preserve and hitting a tree.
Torres and the North Riverside police officer who was in the squad car were both taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Matlak was also taken to Loyola with serious injuries.
At the hospital, Matlak told officers he was coming home from a nightclub in Chicago and had been drinking heavily throughout the night before his crash, police said. He refused to have his blood drawn, but officers could “detect the odor of alcohol still emitting from his mouth and body” while he was being treated.
Matlak, who lives in the 3400 block of North Tripp, was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to reduce speed to avoid and accident, improper lane usage and driving too fast for conditions, according to police. He remained in the hospital as of Monday night.
Torres, who lives in the 7800 block of West 65th Place in Bedford Park, told investigators he had been out all night drinking after work and had “12 to 13 beers” before getting in his van to drive home, police said. He told them he saw the fully marked police car with its lights on, but that it was too late for him to stop.
He agreed to have blood and urine drawn by hospital personnel, who turned samples over to police as evidence.
Torres was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and failure to have insurance, police said. He was also cited by North Riverside police for damage to village property for “extensive” damage to the squad car.
Torres was previously arrested for DUI at the same intersection on Nov. 3, 2004, police said.