Three die in U.S. 20 crash
• Victims all from Elgin: Two more people were left seriously injured in early morning accident 

Bartlett police officers examine two vehicles involved in a crash that left three Elgin residents dead and two more seriously injured early Saturday morning on U.S. 20 near Illinois 59 in Bartlett. 

By Gloria Carr 

BARTLETT — An Elgin family suffered a double tragedy early Saturday, losing a son and daughter in a car accident on U.S. 20 that killed a third man and seriously injured two others.

Seventeen-year-old Lazaro Estrada-Almanza and his sister, Maria, 21, died along with Leonard Baeza, 17, all of Elgin, Bartlett police said. 

A fourth person in Baeza's car, Enrique Arreola, 19, of Elgin, was listed in critical condition Saturday evening at Sherman Hospital, a spokeswoman said. The driver of a second car, Jessica Gonzalez, 50, of Elgin, was listed in serious but stable condition, she said.

Bartlett police said Baeza was driving a 2006 Nissan Altima eastbound on U.S. 20, near Illinois 59, when he lost control and veered into the westbound lane, striking Gonzalez's 1997 Pontiac Bonneville at 12:10 a.m. 

A reconstruction of the accident showed Baeza was traveling about 80 mph. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.

Police said there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs.

The Estrada-Almanza family gathered Saturday in their East Chicago home. Their father sat on the front porch with his hands in his lap. A relative said the family was too bereaved to speak. 

Roadside memorial at crash site

Flowers already began appearing at a roadside memorial Saturday afternoon. Just behind two balloons and flowers, a twisted metal fence post lay on the ground next to a broken wooden fence.
Six young men arrived shortly before dusk and stood somberly with their hands in their pockets, staring at the spot and pointing to the red lines on the highway. Traffic speed past on U.S. 20, but the men were quiet.

"They were the greatest guys I knew," Raul Camacho said of his high school friends.

Lazaro Estrada-Almanza and Baeza, were both seniors at Elgin High School and had just started school last week.

Luis Elias said Baeza was a good person. He found it difficult to believe his friend was gone.

"I just feel like it is a dream, I couldn't even believe it," the 18-year-old said.

Online, Maria's relatives shared their grief. She had a profile on, an Internet site, where she displayed photos of herself and her family. The photos showed her little brother, Lazaro, and other family members. She last logged onto the site at 7 p.m. Friday. Her profile included her hopes and dreams and other details like her favorite TV show. It stated she was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico.

"So I am 100% Mexicana and really proud of it," she wrote.

Her heroes, she wrote, were her parents.

A cousin wrote a note to her. "You'll always be missed but never forgotten. We all love U greatly and may U rest in peace ... I just want everyone to know how much U were loved and cared about."