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Retired CFD paramedic, wife killed in chain reaction crash with suspected drunk driver

CHICAGO — Police believe a dangerous combination of alcohol and high speeds led to a deadly chain reaction crash that killed a retired paramedic and his wife early Sunday on the city's South Side.

Just after 1 a.m. Sunday, retired Chicago Fire Department ambulance commander Richard Biehl and his wife Susan were on their way home from an East Chicago casino when their truck was hit head-on by a Chevy sedan, causing it to roll over and land upside down.

According to police, the 30-year-old driver of the Chevy may have been intoxicated when he crossed the center line, hitting another car before ramming into the Biehl's truck.

Once paramedics arrived at the scene on the 103rd Street bridge near Luella, they soon learned they would work to save one of their own.

“They knew who he was. They were trying to work as hard as they normally do on patients to save him,” their son William Biehl said.

Richard Biehl was talking to paramedics on the way to Advocate Christ Medical Center, but he later died in the hospital. Susan was pronounced dead at University of Chicago Hospital. He was 63, she was 60.

Just a week ago, the family was celebrating William's wedding. Now he's dealing with the death of both of his parents, as the Chicago Fire Department mourns another death of one of their own. William questioned how anyone could drink and drive when so many alternatives are available.

Retired CFD paramedic Richard Biehl (Photo provided by family)

“You got taxi cabs, you got Uber. You’ve got friends you can call. Family you can call to come pick you up where ever you’re at," William said. “They don’t understand how big of a family, how much love is torn apart just by drinking and driving.”

William said he had a tremendous respect for what his father did. Richard Biehl served in fire stations across Chicago for more than 30 years before retiring about two years ago.

“It was his passion. He liked saving people’s lives, making a difference as much as he could,” William Biehl said. “No matter what color, what race, or whatever or what religion, they try their hardest to make sure you make it to the hospital to live another day.”

Two other people were hurt in the crash, but are expected to be okay. The driver of the the Chevy, 30-year-old Doran Sims, was in critical condition and has been charged with drunk driving and driving with a suspended license, which are both misdemeanors.