HAMMOND | A Gary woman died early Sunday after a drunken driver slammed into her minivan, police said.
The three-car crash in Hammond also left two people critically injured and two people with minor injuries, police said.
Damita Nicholson, 38, of Gary, died at Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Hammond at 3:42 a.m. after the van she was driving was T-boned near the intersection of 165th Street and Columbia Avenue in Hammond, according to the Lake County coroner's office.
A man driving a Ford Focus ran through a stop light on Columbia Avenue at a high rate of speed and crashed into Nicholson's minivan, which was coming through the intersection eastbound on 165th Avenue about 2:35 a.m., police said.
The man, who is from Oak Lawn, had a blood alcohol content about two times the legal limit, which is 0.08, Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said.
Nicholson was rushed to the hospital but suffered blunt force trauma injuries after her car was hit on the driver's side, officials said.
The driver and a passenger in the Ford were both listed in critical condition at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn late Sunday, police said.
Nicholson's van also slid into a Toyota, which was stopped for a light on northbound 165th Avenue. The driver of that car was treated at a local hospital and released, police said.
A passenger in Nicholson's car also was injured, treated and released from the hospital, officials said.
Nicholson leaves behind three sons, ages 1, 2 and 13, said her mother, Rose Nicholson.
"Her 2-year-old is so outgoing, just like she was," she said.
Rose Nicholson, 58, of Dixmoor, Ill., said her daughter was spirited and always happy.
She had recently graduated from Everest College with a degree in medical administration and was working at a doctor's office in Crown Point, her mother said.
She had a thirst for learning and was always studying something after she graduated from Thornton Township High School.
"She had always been going to school," Rose Nicholson said. "She went to Robert Morris (University), and she had an associate's degree in computer science. Then she went to school to do hair. She liked learning."
She also had strong roots in her faith and participated in the praise team at her church, her mother said.
"She was just a person that enjoyed life," she said.
The case is being submitted to the Lake County prosecutor's office for review, according to police.