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4 dead, 1 rescued in wreck in Bridgeview

Wooden hearts with names four people killed mark spot head-crash Friday Bridgeview. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media

Wooden hearts with the names of four people killed mark the spot of a head-on crash Friday in Bridgeview. | Nick Swedberg/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 5, 2014 10:44PM

Raul Vazquez was on the phone when he heard a crash outside the Bridgeview apartment building where he lives.

He helped pull a teenage boy from a mangled Dodge Dakota pickup, but four people died in the two-vehicle crash just before 5:30 p.m. Friday in the 8200 block of Harlem Avenue.

Vazquez tried to help the others trapped in the two vehicles, “but it was too late. They were dead already.”

Aiman Salem, 21, of Worth and Alaa Mustafa Alkhatib, 24, of Palos Hills, were in a northbound Chevrolet Camaro that collided head-on with the southbound pickup truck, driven by Hector Gonzalez, 48, of Chicago, and caught fire. All died, as did 52-year-old Maria Gonzalez of Chicago.

The teenager appeared to have suffered leg injuries and was struggling when Vazquez and other nearby residents, along with the son of a resident of the Bridgeview Health Care Center who cut the boy’s seat belt, helped him from the pickup truck to safety, according to witnesses.

He was taken to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, where authorities said he was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Debbie Heredia, 61, who was hosting a nearby Fourth of July barbecue, said it looked like the Camaro was racing another sports car down Harlem Avenue, started fishtailing and looked like it was going to skid into a line of cars at the Hawk Chevrolet dealership but instead careered into oncoming traffic.

A neighbor said that shortly before the crash, Salem had left his car in a parking lot near 85th Street and Harlem, and Alkhabit picked him up to go pick up food.

Wasam Qoran, 36, said his younger brother, Salem, was a “hardworking man” who took care of his mother and sister. Salem operated a towing company and was either working or at a friend’s barber shop, located down the street from the crash site.

Longtime friend Mo Khatib, 24, of Palos Hills, said the younger Salem was “all about his business” and put in long hours at the towing company. Despite the hard work, Salem always had a smile on his face.

“Every morning, he’d say, ‘Early bird gets the worm,’ ” Khatib said.

Mohammad Mohammad, 27, of Palos Hills, said his younger brother, Alkhatib, was hardworking and affable. He said Alkhatib’s energetic nature helped while he owned and operated his own trucking company.

Despite being the youngest of three brothers, Alkhatib was the the protector of the family, Mohammad said: “He always came to our aid.”

Saturday afternoon, people had brought flowers to mark the crash scene. Donna McMahon, who’d seen the wreckage, said, “I can’t get that little boy out of my head. He looked so helpless.”

Funeral services for Salem and Alkhatib are planned Sunday at the Bridgeview mosque, with interment at Parkholm Cemetery in La Grange Park.

Contributing: Evan F. Moore, Sun-Times Media Wire

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