CHICAGO — A grandmother who overcame addiction to help others struggling with drug abuse was among three people killed Tuesday night after the SUV they were riding in crashed and flipped on the West Side, authorities said.
The SUV was traveling eastbound in the 2400 block of West 31st Street about 8:30 p.m. when it hit the curb, struck a light pole and flipped onto its roof, police said.
Yvonne Tobias, 57, along with Phillip Barnes, 46, of Romeoville and Leantwana Roseburr, 40, of the 4900 block of West Gladys Avenue, all died after being taken to Mt. Sinai hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.
Tobias' brother, Dale Tobias, said Wednesday his sister was getting a ride to work Tuesday night with her friends Barnes and Roseburr.
Police are investigating the cause of the crash.
Standing outside Tobias' apartment Wednesday in the 400 block of South Homan Avenue — a home filled with books, family photos and her grandchildren's trophies — Dale Tobias said his older sister loved gospel music and watching crime investigation documentaries.
Yvonne Tobias was born in Mississippi and raised on the West Side, her brother said. She overcame drug addiction to dedicate her life to helping others.
"She got hooked on drugs," he said. "But for the last 15 years, she was able to turn her life around and support her family."
After getting clean, Yvonne Tobias dedicated her professional life to helping those in similar situations and worked as a nurse at Cornell Interventions Southwood, a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center, her family explained.
"She could have done regular nursing," her brother said, "but given what she went through to recover from her drug addiction, she took pride in helping others."
Yvonne Tobias and Roseburr had been friends for years, he noted, and everyone called Roseburr "Twinny" because she had a twin sister.
Barnes and Roseburr's families could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Yvonne Tobias leaves behind three adult children and a host of grandchildren, her family said.
Shtaria Foster, 14, one of her granddaughters, could not believe this morning that her grandmother was gone.
Foster said she will always remember when she visited Mississippi with her grandma.
"She was nice, smart, giving, caring, lovable and a hard worker," her granddaughter said.
Yvonne Tobias' struggle with addiction made her more empathetic to the shortcomings of others, her family added.
"She didn't judge nobody," said Farrah Robins, 22, a granddaughter whom Yvonne called "Bugalou." "Everybody had a second chance."
Amid the grief Wednesday morning, another granddaughter, Fanita Robins, 17, said she is learning something from her grandma's loss.
"It teaches you a life lesson," she said. "Don't take nothing for granted. You never know what's going to happen."