Two vehicles were apparently drag-racing before their drivers crashed through a fence in New Lenox Township over the weekend, killing two men, injuring three others and causing a crude oil pipeline to leak and explode into flames, officials said Monday.
Though the investigation is ongoing, it appears that a Mustang and a Chevrolet SUV were ‘“likely driving side by side,” said Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas, of the Will County Sheriff’s Department.
Enbridge Inc., and may have affected crude oil prices in the North American market, experts told the Bloomberg news service. Enbridge Inc. plans to resume crude deliveries this week on the pipeline, allowing supply to reach Chicago-area refineries run by BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Citgo Petroleum Corp., Bloomberg reported.
The survivors of the crash told police they were “racing one another” and “driving at a high rate of speed,” a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said.
The crash happened about 2 a.m. Saturday at Moni Drive and South Center Avenue, near New Lenox, when one vehicle carrying two men and another vehicle carrying three others drove through a chain-link fence and hit the Enbridge pipeline.
Killed were the two men in the 2002 Mustang — Bart Lenz, 21, and Zachary Orel, 25, both of New Lenox, according to relatives and the Will County coroner’s office. Lenz’s father said his son was not the driver.
The driver of the 2006 Chevy Trailblazer, Michael Piersma, 21, and back-seat passenger William Monreal, 20, both of New Lenox, were taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood for burns, officials said. Their conditions were not available.
The front-seat passenger, Patrick Hall, 22, of New Lenox, was treated for minor burns and released from Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, a sheriff’s office news release said.
The five men had been at Prime Time bar in New Lenox before leaving in the two vehicles, authorities said.
The pipeline is more than 100 feet from the road, and crews are working to have it repaired and operational by Thursday, Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer said. He said the line, which takes crude oil from Superior, Wis., to Griffith, Ind., carries at least 317,000 barrels of oil a day.
Springer said it could not yet be determined how much oil had spilled.
“The footprint of the released materials appears to have remained on Enbridge property,” said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Maggie Carson.
New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said the industrial, unincorporated area is known as a place for drag-racers.
Lenz’s father said his son was not involved in drag-racing and he doesn’t think the other young men were either.
“I don’t think any of them do that as a practice,” Scott Lenz said. “I think it was just one of those spontaneous stupid things to do.”
He said his son was an avid Green Bay Packers fan and was named after the team’s Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr.
“All I know he wasn’t driving and he’s no longer with us. We’re still waiting for all the details,” Scott Lenz said. “My son was a great guy.”
Orel’s family issued a statement mourning the young Posen firefighter-paramedic: “He was a true leader in this family, who inspired all to strive for the best and take every opportunity in life.”