A minivan caught fire shortly after a crash on Interstate 290 in Elk Grove Village.

A minivan caught fire shortly after a crash on Interstate 290 in Elk Grove Village. (WGN-TV / May 29, 2013)

Austin Ketelsen had just seen "Fast & Furious 6" when he did a double-take while driving down Interstate 290: A van crashing into a median wall and bursting into flames.

"Jeez, everything was so fast," said Ketelsen, 21, who stopped and ran up to the van to check on a woman behind the wheel.

"This lady. . .She was bleeding," he said. "I could tell that she was rummaging for something, like maybe her phone. We were like, 'Miss, your car's on fire. You need to get out.' . . .I was like, 'Do you have any kids, you have like an animal here?' She's like, 'No, no, no it's just me.'

"You got to get out of here, your car's on fire," he told her.

Ketelsen and another man helped remove pieces of a pole the woman struck from the roadway.

"It was wild. It was like seeing a crash in a movie and it was just as slow," he said. "But this was real life and you have a thousand thoughts going through your mind. You don't have time to think you just act."

Officials say fire engulfed the van shortly after the woman got out, and credited Ketelsen for helping her out.  She was taken to Alexian Brothers Medical Center with minor injuries, officials said.

Ketelsen, a student at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, viewed the movie to write a review for an online publication where he is employed as an intern.

The woman, Regan Kotz, 31, of Burr Ridge, had been cited for driving under the influence.

State police said the accident occurred around 1:40 a.m. when the woman lost control of the van as she was driving west on I-290 in Elk Grove Village. The van struck a light pole near Biesterfield Road, causing the van to cross over all lanes of the interstate and hit a concrete median, police said.

"That civilian's job made it a happy ending tonight," Elk Grove Village Fire Lt. Scott Peterson said. "And we didn't have a fatality. He was successfully able to get her out of the van before it was engulfed in fire."

 

WGN-TV contributed

asege@tribune.com

Twitter: @AdamSege