Authorities working to identify victims, cause of Ingleside crash

  • Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames. Officials are working to identify the victims and determine the cause of the crash.

    Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames. Officials are working to identify the victims and determine the cause of the crash. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames.

    Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames. Officials said fingerprints, DNA and teeth sample tests will be needed to identify the victims.

    Three people were killed in far north suburban Ingleside after a car slammed into a tree and burst into flames. Officials said fingerprints, DNA and teeth sample tests will be needed to identify the victims. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • A tree is charred at the scene of a fatal accident in Ingleside on Rollins Road, east of West Lake Shore Drive, that killed three people early Wednesday.

      A tree is charred at the scene of a fatal accident in Ingleside on Rollins Road, east of West Lake Shore Drive, that killed three people early Wednesday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • A car slammed into this tree on Rollins Road in Ingleside early Wednesday morning and killed three people. Officials are working to identify the victims and determine the cause of the crash.

      A car slammed into this tree on Rollins Road in Ingleside early Wednesday morning and killed three people. Officials are working to identify the victims and determine the cause of the crash. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 8/26/2015 9:00 PM

A fiery early morning crash that killed three people in northern Lake County has authorities scrambling to figure out what happened and who was involved.

It could be days before authorities know for sure the names of the Kia Optima's occupants and why the vehicle left the pavement along a blocks-long wooded stretch of Rollins Road near Grant Woods Forest Preserve in Ingleside at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday. There, it slammed into a tree and burst into flames.

 

Lake County Deputy Coroner Orlando Portillo said the victims were burned beyond recognition. DNA and dental tests are needed to positively identify them, he said.

Adding to the mystery: The license plate affixed to the Kia was not registered to the vehicle involved in the crash, Lake County Sheriff's Det. Christopher Covelli said. No identification was found on any of the three bodies inside the mangled and charred car, he said.

"Although the license plate is not for the car involved in the crash, we believe it was from another car owned by a person in the crash," Covelli said. "But, the coroner's office will have to go other routes to identify everyone involved. It could be days before we know for sure."

Portillo said fingerprints, DNA and dental tests can take days -- sometimes weeks -- to complete.

"We could swab for DNA and use fingerprints, but they only come back with a positive identification if there is another source to compare it to," he said. "So, if the DNA or fingerprints (of the victims) are not on file in a database anywhere, we won't have a match."

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Portillo said the coroner's office can require up to three positive identifiers before positively identifying an unrecognizable body.

Accident investigators are working to determine why the Kia drove straight through a slight left bend in the westbound lanes of Rollins Road and slammed into the large tree.

Tire marks are visible on the shoulder of the road at the crash scene east of West Lake Shore Drive, and a yellow road sign with an arrow directing motorists to turn was mangled in the crash.

Witnesses told police the Kia burst into flames after striking the tree, Covelli said. The car was fully engulfed when emergency crews arrived at the scene.

Hours after the crash, the tree was charred black due to the fire.

The bodies were found inside the vehicle after Fox Lake Fire Protection District officials put out the fire, Covelli said.

The fatal crash remains under investigation, he said, and officials don't know if alcohol or drugs were factors.

Portillo said he is working to speed up the victim identification process, but added that specialists will need to be called in to perform the necessary tests.

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