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Car lands upside down in back yard; driver charged

Bobby D. McClellean 53 2600 block W. Greenwood Ave. Waukegan was charged with DUI after his car flipped over fence

Bobby D. McClellean, 53, of the 2600 block of W. Greenwood Ave., Waukegan was charged with DUI after his car flipped over a fence and landed upside down in a backyard near the "S" curve on Washington Street east of Route 45 in Gurnee. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 12, 2013 1:58PM

GURNEE — A Waukegan driver who police say was going over 80 miles an hour crashed his car through a wood fence with the vehicle ending upside down in a back yard in a west Gurnee neighborhood.

The driver was identified as Bobby McClellean, 53, of the 2600 block of West Greenwood Avenue. He was charged early Tuesday with speeding, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, improper lane usage and DUI after the single-car accident off Washington Street in near Ravinia Woods.

McClellean was transported to Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyville, with minor injuries. He was taken into custody and charged after his release from the hospital.

Gurnee Police Cmdr. Jay Patrick said Wednesday that around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday morning a police officer was conducting a radar traffic detail at the Interstate 94 overpass on Washington Street when a vehicle passed him going west on Washington Street at “80 plus miles per hour.”

The officer immediately began a pursuit of the 2011 Kia four-door with his emergency lights activated and caught up to the vehicle just before the curve on Washington Street.

“The vehicle driver appeared to lose control attempting to negotiate the curve in the roadway and went over the curb at the bend,” said Patrick in an e-mail.

“The vehicle went down the embankment and apparently vaulted end over end and cleared a backyard fence. The vehicle came to rest on it’s roof in a back yard. The driver was still buckled in his seat when the officer reached the vehicle,” he said.

Dave Sherman, president of the Ravinia Woods Homeowners’ Association, said he heard a “huge thud” early Tuesday morning off Washington Street near the infamous “S” curve. When he went outside to investigate he was stunned.

“I saw lots of lights up and down Washington and then looked to the right and saw a car upside down two doors down. I live off the berm on Washington Street on the S curve,” he said .

Sherman said the roadway is dangerous and the area in question does not have guardrails protecting the back yards of the homes along Washington Street. The berm doesn’t seem tall enough, even though Gurnee officials said it was when the road was rebuilt in the last couple of years, he said.

“Plus, no other stretch of Washington is so unprotected to the homes. Very little landscaping and no rails. If the neighbor did not have huge pines by their fence, the car would have gone through the house for sure,” he said.

Patrick said Gurnee police records show three fatal accidents in that general area. One was in January 1996, where three teens — 16, 15 and 13 — and a 12 year old died. Single fatalities were recorded in 1997 and 2000. All of the accidents involved collisions with other vehicles in the area of the curve, he said.

Patrick said the Lake County Department of Transportation reconfigured that section of Washington Street after the four 1996 deaths, and again in 2000. “After the roadway configuration changed, we have had no fatal accidents in that area,” he noted.

Sherman said the 1996 fatal accident also saw cars go into peoples’ yards. This latest accident could have been tragic if it happened when kids were playing in the back yard, he said. “Lots of kids play in those yards. That car was one foot from a trampoline.

“I had our management company bring this up to the village of Gurnee and they said it was fine and they looked at it. Obviously, it is not fine,” he said.

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