03/15/2013 11:37 am ET Updated Mar 15, 2013

Lake Shore Drive Crash: Police Say Wrong-Way Driver Behind The Wheel In Crash That Left 2 Dead, 2 Injured

Updated story

Police say a wrong-way driver heading north in the southbound lane on Lake Shore Drive early Friday crashed into two cars, killing two men and seriously injuring two more.

The crash happened in the southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive around 4 a.m. Friday between Belmont and Diversey, according to the Tribune. On the scene, the Jeep was flipped on its side between a mangled vehicle and another SUV just north of the others.

The victims, both riding in the same car, were later identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner as Fabian Torres and Joaquin Garcia, according to NBC Chicago. Police say the two men, both in their 20s, were friends from the Little Village neighborhood.

Witnesses told police they flashed lights and swerved to avoid a silver Chevrolet SUV was driving northbound in the southbound lane early Friday according to a Sun-Times update. The driver, a male in his 30s, reportedly entered the drive at LaSalle, passing at least one exit before crashing into Torres and Garcia and then hitting a third car. Police say alcohol may have been a factor.

ABC Chicago reports the wrong way driver and a woman driving a third car that was struck were taken to local hospitals in critical condition. By afternoon, the woman was expected to be released from the hospital, while the male driver's condition had stabilized.

Fox Chicago noted in its broadcast (embedded) that all three cars sustained major front-end damage.

Following the crash, the drive was closed in the southbound lane as crews mapped the scene and performed cleanup. As traffic remained backed up for more than five hours, DNAinfo Chicago reported many stuck and frustrated drivers got creative with their escape plan, "driving over curbs and cutting through grassy parks" to find an exit.

Buses were rerouted to avoid the scene, and the drive was finally re-opened at 9 a.m.