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How those bat-$#!T crazy DeLorean/truck fire/Chicago photos came to be

  • A photo taken by Chris Ernst went viral Tuesday.
A photo taken by Chris Ernst went viral Tuesday. (Chris Ernst )
April 24, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

Chris Ernst had no idea that the photos he took of a truck fire Monday included a DeLorean driving past, let alone that the picture would soon go viral.

At the very same moment, the driver of the DeLorean—also taking a photo—was equally unaware the attention he would get.

No serious injuries were reported in the fire, which occurred on the Stevenson Expressway about 2:30 p.m.

But by Wednesday morning, photos from Ernst and the driver of the other car, Corey Ooms, were the all-time most popular posts on Reddit’s Chicago page on the link sharing site. They had also made it all the way to the main page of Reddit, dubbed “the front page of the Internet,” as well as the Gawker network and social media news site Mashable.

“It was one of those one-in-a-million, small-world chance type thing,” said Ooms, 30, of Plainfield, who owns the fabled “Back to the Future” vehicle. Ooms said his other car happened to be in the shop Monday, so he took the stainless-steel 1981 DeLorean for a spin. It’s not uncommon, he said, for people to pull alongside and take photos of his car, but it’s never gotten him so much attention.

“It was one of those things, right place, right time I guess,” he said.

The viral seed was planted when Mike Bradberry, 30, of the West Loop, posted Ernst’s well timed picture to Instagram and shared it on r/Chicago. It jumped to No. 1 on the day, and later would reach the front page of Reddit when Ooms jumped in on the comments to note that he was driving and taking a photo at the same time.

“I spent the entire day watching this grow trying to get a hold of Chris, who woke up extremely late,” he said. By Wednesday, the photo had a score of more than 2,400, the highest ever for the Chicago sub-Reddit.

The world got even smaller when Ernst and Ooms realized they have several mutual friends, even though the two have never met.

“Holy cow, what are the chances?” Ernst, 29, of River West, said. “It was too insane.”

Ernst isn’t even bugged by the fact that he’s received little “karma”—the mostly superficial scoring system for posts on Reddit—from the viral photos. After all, it wasn’t until he was pulling off at an exit that he realized he scored a “solid” shot of a DeLorean passing a fireball.

“Stuff happens every now and again and you say, ‘How did that happen?,’ ” he said. “It just blows your mind.”

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