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Car traveling wrong way on I-88 leaves 2 dead, shatters family

Friends Afrose Merchant her family gather outside family's home Elmhurst Sunday. RashiqHasan (from left) NaziQadri her children YusrSyed Affan wait

Friends of Afrose Merchant and her family gather outside the family's home in Elmhurst on Sunday. Rashiqa Hasan (from left), Nazia Qadri and her children Yusra, Syed, and Affan wait for members of the family who were involved in a crash on I-88 that left

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Updated: September 9, 2011 12:44AM

Like most sisters, Afrose Merchant and Farzana Ali had a tightknit bond. They lived near each other, worked for the same company and helped take care of their elderly parents.

But that bond was shattered Saturday evening when a car traveling the wrong way on I-88 in Lisle collided with Ali’s vehicle.

Traveling in separate cars, the sisters and their families were headed to a Naperville Islamic Community Center for a prayer service when the accident happened.

Killed were Ali, 37, and her father Sherali Shalwani, 74. Ali’s husband, Karim, was taken to a local hospital and later transferred to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove where he underwent surgery Sunday.

Merchant, her husband, her son and her mother were traveling in a second car.

Sunday, Merchant appeared distraught as she arrived at her Elmhurst townhouse. She said she did not want to talk about the tragedy.

Neighbors were shocked by the news.

“I waved to them as they left yesterday,” said Robert Justice, who lives next door to the Merchants. “Something like this shouldn’t happen to such nice people.”

The driver of a red Porsche convertible was traveling east in the westbound center lane of I-88 when the car collided with Ali’s Toyota Corolla, Illinois State Police Tollway District Master Sgt. David Schneider said.

When the Corolla struck the wall of the left median, the Porsche then struck a mini van while a station wagon struck the debris from the crash. No further injuries occurred.

The driver of the Porsche, a 43-year-old man, was taken to Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and transferred Sunday to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he was in critical condition, according to Illinois State Police Tollway District Master Sgt. Matt Hodgdon.

On Sunday, Afrose Merchant asked for prayers, said family friend Rashiqa Hasan.

“We are all feeling so sad for the families,” Hasan said. “It just broke my heart when I heard about the accident. All we can do is pray.”

The sisters, who both worked for Bank of America, are two of six siblings. Their parents are originally from Karachi, Pakistan, and moved to Illinois in the mid-1990s.

It’s is not immediately known if drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident, which is under investigation by State Police. No charges have been filed.

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