Off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer killed in wrong-way crash on Tri-State

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An off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer was killed in an Interstate 294/Tri-State Tollway crash caused by a wrong-way driver early Sunday near west suburban Oak Brook, according to Illinois State Police.

About 3:45 a.m., a Toyota Camry heading south in the northbound lanes of the tollway near Cermak Road struck a Dodge Neon that was traveling in the correct direction, state police said. One of the vehicles then hit a Chevrolet truck.

Steven Andrew Smith, a 27-year-old off-duty Chicago Ridge police officer, was in the passenger seat of the Dodge and pronounced dead at the scene, according to ISP and Chicago Ridge police.

The Toyota’s driver, a female whose age wasn’t available, and the person at the wheel of the Dodge were taken to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital with injuries that weren’t thought to be life-threatening, police said. The driver of the truck wasn’t hurt.

Smith, a Chicago Ridge resident, began as a part-time officer in the southwest suburb in 2010 before completing police academy and earning full-time status in February this year, according to Chicago Ridge police Chief Robert D. Pyznarski.

Smith, who joined the Marine Corps in 2009 and was still a reserve, is survived by his parents and brother, Pyznarski said.

“He was an excellent police officer and a friend to all of us here. We lost a big part of our family,” Pyznarski said.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed the fatality but did not release other details. No charges were pending as of Sunday afternoon as state police investigate.

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