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Two Die When Car Slams Into Crowd 10 Others Injured; Chicago Driver Blames Stuck Gas Pedal

A driver who said her gas pedal got stuck plowed her car into pedestrians on a busy downtown street Wednesday, killing two people and injuring 10 others, two critically.

“I just heard a thump, and then five or six people were flying 3, 4 feet in the air,” said Terry Coxworth, who was standing at the intersection where the accident happened.

The driver, Eleanor Soltis, 76, was cited for operating an unsafe vehicle, failure to exercise due care and disobeying a red light, police spokeswoman Arlene Mays said. Soltis, who told police her gas pedal had stuck, was treated at a hospital and released.

Her car struck a car stopped at a light and veered onto a sidewalk where it came to rest with a traffic sign stuck to its mangled front end, Coxworth said.

David Flynn, 51 of Chicago, suffered head injuries and died at a hospital, officials said.

Janina Laskowiecki, 66, died at a hospital after suffering multiple fractures and head injuries, said a hospital administrator.

Of the injured, two were in critical condition Wednesday evening, six were in fair or good condition and two others had been released, hospital spokesmen said.

Secretary of State George Ryan said there was no indication Soltis’ age was a factor in the accident.Ryan’s office said her driving record was spotless.

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