Des Plaines Police: Piotr Rog’s Mercedes Was Speeding 135 MPH at Northwest Highway Crash

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Piotr Rog, 21, the driver of a Mercedes-Benz that crashed head-on into car, killing three members of an Arlington Heights family, was traveling about 135 mph, according to details of a Des Plaines police investigation released Wednesday. The police department previously estimated Rog was driving 100 mph or 100 mph plus.

Piotr Rog was also killed at the scene in the crash as he was speeding westbound on Northwest Highway just before 9:00 p.m. on Thursday February 16, 2017. His Mercedes sedan struck a Chevy Impala driven by Kevin Crawford and carrying passengers Anita Crawford and daughter 20-year-old daughter Kirsten Crawford. Kevin Crawford died in the ambulance immediately after he was extricated by firefighter/paramedics about 9:16 p.m. Anita Crawford died at Northwest Community Hospital. Kirsten Crawford died at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital during a CT Scan. The Arlington Heights family was traveling to a soccer game at the nearby Lattof YMCA, and was turning left into the west driveway of the parking lot of the Lattof YMCA when the impact occurred.

VIEWER DISCRETION: High-speed head-on crash with extrication on Northwest Highway between Mount Prospect Road and Wolf Road.

A passenger inside the smoke-filled Mercedes-Benz sedan was transported to Level I Trauma Center Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and survived.

Investigators wanted to retrieve information from the “black box” or automotive Event Data Recorder (EDR) in the Mercedes-Benz that could have revealed more details from the crash, but Mercedes-Benz has not cooperated with Des Plaines police investigators, according to Des Plaines Police Chief Bill Kushner.

Based on an NHTSA regulation passed in 2012, if a vehicle has an event data recorder (EDR), it must track 15 specific data points, including speed, steering, braking, acceleration, seatbelt use, and, in the event of a crash, force of impact and whether airbags deployed.

Most EDRs are programmed to record data in a continuous loop, writing over information again and again until a vehicle is involved in a crash. When a crash occurs, the device automatically saves up to 5 seconds of data recorded immediately before the crash, during the crash and after the crash. Important information, such as the speed 5 seconds before the crash, whether brakes were applied, and whether the car was accelerating or decelerating on impact are very important data sets for investigators.

Sometimes investigators can plug into a cable receptacle connected to the EDR, and instantly download the data and see the report on a laptop. For some reason, this isn’t happening with the crashed Mercedes-Benz vehicle.

“Mercedes is just being really, really obstructionist, so we went the old-fashioned way [reconstruction based on the physics of the crash and resulting pathways of the vehicles].”

— Des Plaines Police Chief Bill Kushner

Investigators used mathematical calculations and measurements from markings in the pavement at the scene to determine the speed at the time of impact, Kushner said.

The accident reconstruction of the high-speed collision showed the Impala went spinning in the opposite direction it had been traveling for almost 200 feet before striking a third vehicle, according to Police Chief Bill Kushner. The Mercedes-Benz continued traveling 185 feet after impact. Part of the post-impact path of the Mercedes was on the northside grassy parkway of Northwest Highway. The third vehicle — a Toyota Highlander — received only minor damage. The occupants in the Toyota Highlander were treated and released at the scene.

An attempt to interview the passenger in Piotr Rog’s Mercedes has also failed to produce any helpful information because the crash victim’s memory has not restored to the time of the crash.

The 26-year-old passenger in the Mercedes-Benz, who survived being trapped inside the burning Mercedes following the crash, has suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI). Last week, Des Plaines detectives talked to the Des Plaines man at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, but the interview was unsuccessful. The only surviving crash victim has a memory that only recalls up to two days before the crash when he was at work, according to Kushner.

“Speaking with doctors and psychiatrists, it’s common with that kind of brain injury,” he said.

The police department is also awaiting toxicology results from the driver to determine whether drugs or alcohol contributed to the crash.

The two youngest children in the Crawford family, ages 10 and 16, who were not involved in the crash have lived with their grandparents since the crash.

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VIEWER DISCRETION: Accident investigation scene following a fatal high-speed head-on crash. A witness reported that Piotr Rog’s mother arrived at the scene and confronted police, who prevented her from approaching the Mercedes Benz within the secured accident investigation scene.

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