08/14/2012 04:00 pm ET

Eric Kerestes Killed In Fiery Cab Crash On Chicago's Northwest Side

A cab that veered off the road in Chicago's River West neighborhood early Tuesday killed a pedestrian and injured its driver and passenger before bursting into flames.

Witnesses say the vehicle hit a light pole on Milwaukee Avenue around 6 a.m. Tuesday and flipped over several times, striking 30-year-old Eric Kerestes and throwing him at least 15 feet on impact, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Kerestes, who lives just blocks from the crash site, was pronounced dead at the scene, NBC Chicago reports. Witnesses say the cab's passenger got out before the vehicle caught fire, when bystanders helped pull the driver to safety.

Two other people involved in the crash were taken to area hospitals in critical condition, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Earlier this year, the Chicago Department of Transportation launched a citywide awareness campaign, installing 32 mannequins along Wacker Dr. representing pedestrians killed in Chicago crashes in 2010. The campaign focused specifically on the safety of pedestrians, whom CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein called "the most vulnerable users of the public way." (See photos from the campaign below.)

In spite of these awareness efforts, area residents say drivers often take unnecessary risks that could put pedestrians in harm's way.

"I think this is tragic," witness Yamile Cruz told ABC Chicago. "I don't think he deserves to die that way, and I think that we do have problems always with cabs, the way they drive around here, they're flying."



Mannequins On Wacker Drive To Promote Pedestrian Safety