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News

Monster Mayhem

DeKALB - The truck was getting too close. DeKalb residents Mary Kate Sibley and James Vesely were among some 100 people standing on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon in the 100 block of North Sixth Street, watching a monster truck crush a row of four cars. Each pass of the truck made Sibley and Vesely increasingly nervous, prompting them to move to the other side of the street. Minutes later, around 2:20 p.m., the truck driver revved the engine. The truck went airborne, flying over the four flattened vehicles, and then plowed through a crowd of spectators, scattering them.
ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Video of the scene after the accident

MP3 Podcast First hand account of accident by Daily Chronicle photographer Eric Sumberg

Photo Slideshow

At least a dozen people were injured, nine of whom were taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital by ambulance. The 44-year-old truck driver was not among them, DeKalb Police Lt. Jim Kayes said. The most seriously injured were 26-year-old Amy List and her 4-year-old daughter, who were airlifted to hospitals in Rockford. Amy List was in good condition at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center on Friday morning, and the daughter was at Rockford Memorial Hospital, a St. Anthony's spokeswoman said. The girl's condition was not immediately available. The remaining two adults and five children taken to the emergency room were treated and released Thursday night, Kishwaukee Community Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Emanuelson said. Three people refused medical treatment by signing releases at the scene. &#8220Most of those injuries were not serious,” Kayes said. &#8220Some of them may have been inflicted when (people) were trying to get out of the way of the truck and fell down.” The show, sponsored by DeKalb County Auto Parts, a NAPA Auto Parts dealer, took place on North Sixth Street between Lincoln Highway and the Union Pacific railroad tracks. The orange and blue monster truck emblazoned with the NAPA logo crushed four cars as part of the presentation, and with each pass over them, it edged closer to the dozens of people watching from the west sidewalk, witnesses said. On the truck's fourth pass, witnesses said, it went airborne over the crushed vehicles. When it touched down on the other side, the truck kept going, plowing through the crowd and knocking down one panel of a wooden fence near the McDonald's property line. It then shot across the railroad tracks and hit a chain-link fence on the other side. Police are still determining exactly what led to the truck losing control, Kayes said. No charges are currently pending, but police will review the accident with the DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office, he said. The monster truck has been impounded. Union Pacific trains were stopped for about two and a half hours while officials removed the truck from the tracks and cleared the scene, DeKalb Fire Chief Lanny Russell said. Lincoln Highway was closed for around an hour, and Sixth Street reopened by 6 p.m., he said. NAPA store employees at the scene declined to comment. Officials at NAPA's parent company, Genuine Parts Co., could not immediately be reached for comment. As paramedics moved through the crowd, assessing the condition of people on sidewalks and curbs and in folding chairs, little boys who had watched the show marched along the sidewalk, playing with the yellow caution tape blocking off the scene. Ambulances from DeKalb, Cortland, Malta, Maple Park, Sycamore, Genoa-Kingston and Kirkland transported the injured, and shaken onlookers milled around wide-eyed, hands over their mouths, as they watched the ambulances come and go. About a half-hour after the incident, Sibley and Vesely were still shaking. At first, Vesely didn't think the truck had struck anyone, but then he saw the Lists lying on the ground, covered in dirt. &#8220The woman was sort of lying across the little girl, like covering her,” he added. Geni Collins, who watched the monster-truck show with her family, was one of the first to lend a hand. Dressed in gray nursing scrubs, the certified nursing assistant planned to catch the show before heading to work at Kishwaukee Community Hospital. With no emergency units standing by, Collins and her daughter, Felecia, also a CNA, dropped everything to help the victims. &#8220Thank God we were here,” Geni Collins said. &#8220We just ran when we saw it. I just love helping people and I feel so good right now knowing I was able to.” The city of DeKalb granted NAPA permission to block off part of Sixth Street for the show, the city manager said. There were no police or emergency personnel on hand before the incident. Security would have been the responsibility of the event holders, Kayes said. &#8220We were informed the truck would be on display and crushing cars, but did not know it would accelerate to the point where it would be airborne,” he said. Bob Quitno stood next to his white sport utility vehicle with his daughter tucked safely inside, watching the aftermath. Quitno took time from his job as a drywaller to bring the 8-year-old to the show, which she watched from the hood of the car near where the monster truck went airborne. &#8220It passed over the cars four times and the third time it was so close that I grabbed her and said, ‘You'd better get down just in case,'” Quitno recalled. Just before the fourth pass over the cars, coordinators of the show asked the crowd to move behind the sidewalk, Quitno said. Seconds later, the truck flew directly over the spot the crowd had been directed to move to. Mayor Frank Van Buer, who was not at the show but arrived afterward, said it was an unfortunate incident. &#8220I got a call from our city manager about it,” he said. &#8220I came by here about 11 (a.m.) when they were setting up, and I thought, ‘That's kind of interesting.' I didn't know exactly what they were doing. I guess you never expect anything like this to happen.” Daily Chronicle Staff Writer Benji Feldheim contributed to this report.







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