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Police officer accused of wrong-way driving in fatal Chicago crash

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A North Chicago police officer driving the wrong way on Lake Shore Drive early Friday morning caused a three-vehicle crash that killed two men, a department lieutenant told NBC Chicago.

Terrel Garrett was in an SUV that crashed into a Jeep and a Toyota Scion at about 4 a.m. in the southbound lanes at Diversey Parkway. Police said he likely got onto Lake Shore Drive at LaSalle Drive. Witnesses said he was traveling at speeds of 60 miles per hour or more.

A source with the North Chicago Police Department said Garrett was drunk at the time of Friday's crash. He'd been with the department for a little more than a year, a lieutenant said.

Chief James Jackson said Garrett, off-duty at the time of the crash, was arrested and immediately placed on administrative leave.

"We have absolutely no tolerance for officers whose actions fall outside the very laws they are asked to enforce," Jackson said in a statement.

A source said Garrett is the cousin of Michael Newsome, the department's former police chief who resigned last year following allegations of abuse. He was later charged with stealing more than $140,000 that had been seized from drug arrests.

The crash closed the southbound lanes for more than five hours from Belmont to Fullerton. Lanes reopened just after 9 a.m.

Two people died in the Jeep, which had flipped to its side, officials said. They were identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner as Fabian Torres of the 2800 block of South Avers and Joaquin Garcia of the 2200 block of West 18th Place.

"My heart dropped when I heard the news. I couldn't believe it," said Deborah Cuevas, a childhood friend of Torres. "We lost someone we thought we would have forever. It's just so hard. We don't know how to take the news. We love him with all our hearts."

Garrett and a female driver in the Scion were injured and taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition. The female driver has since been released.

There was no information regarding possible charges in the case as of 5:30 p.m. Friday.