Investigators comb scene for clues in deaths at Des Plaines-area home
Investigators combed through a Des Plaines-area townhouse late into the night Thursday looking for clues to what caused a suspected hazardous material situation that left two men dead and a woman in critical condition.
Authorities found the men's bodies shortly after 3:30 p.m. while responding to the home in the 9400 block of Harrison Street of Maine Township, after a family member called to report finding the three in distress.
The men, whose ages and identities were not expected to be released until Friday, were pronounced dead at the scene. The woman was listed Thursday night in critical condition at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, authorities said.
Four Cook County Sheriff's deputies also were hospitalized for evaluation after they had trouble breathing while in the home, as was the relative who found the victims. They were released Thursday night, sheriff's spokeswoman Sophia Ansari said.
After the deputies were forced out of the home, investigators did not go back inside until shortly before 7 p.m., when hazardous materials crews determined the situation was no longer dangerous. It was not immediately clear what type of hazardous material may have been present, authorities said.
"They tested for anything that could be a hazardous material and ruled it out" before allowing investigators to return, said North Maine Fire Protection District Chief Richard Dobrowski said.
Ansari said police were treating the matter as a death investigation and did not rule out any possible causes.
The two-story townhouse is part of a five-unit building near Harrison Street's intersection with Dee Road, across from Apollo Elementary School. All of neighboring units were safely evacuated, and residents were allowed to return to their homes before 8 p.m., authorities said.
Neighbors say two middle-aged men and a woman lived in the townhouse, and that loud banging, drilling, and music could often be heard coming from the home in the middle of the night.
"I didn't know what was going on," said Tammy Wilks, whose unit shares a common wall in the basement with that of the victims. That's where much of the noise could be heard, she said.
Wilks, who has lived next door for a year and a half, said her neighbors largely kept to themselves, sticking to quick greetings in passing.
She wasn't home when police were called Thursday afternoon, but said firefighters entered her home as they evacuated the area. Her home was given the all-clear, she said.
Police planned to reopen the road outside the home by 11 p.m.
• Staff writers Sara Hooker, Erin Hegarty and Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.