Few things were more important to Cole Deacon than his friends.
So it was no surprise that droves of them gathered in a hospital chapel during the final hours of his life Sunday, remembering and celebrating the fun-loving son, brother and budding graphic designer.
"Kids did the readings, and someone from Palatine High School played the piano," his mother, Cynthia Deacon, said. "I heard it was beautiful, but I didn't go.
"I couldn't bring myself to leave his side."
Deacon, 19, died early Monday at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, more than a week after a vehicle struck him as he walked on Barrington Road in South Barrington.
The 2011 Palatine High School graduate was studying graphic design at the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg, which he picked to hone his creativity and artistic skills.
A student by day, Deacon spent many late nights helping his father with contracting and remodeling work at area Panera Bread restaurants.
Long hours and hard work were nothing new for Deacon, who spent four years on his school's gymnastics team. He excelled at still rings and the high bar.
"He never knew he liked gymnastics until it was part of the gym curriculum, but he immediately saw he was very good," Cynthia Deacon said. "He was always a daredevil and strong, so he absolutely loved it."
Deacon also was very close with his two younger brothers, Austin and Tanner, both Palatine High School students. The other love of his life was his dog, Diesel, an adopted boxer he loved to cuddle with, said his mother.
"Cole was such an animal lover and was always trying to get me to bring another dog home," she said.
Though struggling to cope, his family is finding some comfort knowing Deacon's wish to be an organ donor has already helped someone else in need. They learned Monday that an Illinois resident received his liver.
Cynthia Deacon said she still doesn't know for certain what happened the night of the crash, when her son was attending a party near the area he was hit.
South Barrington police continue to investigate the collision, but as of Monday afternoon, little information was available and no charges had been filed.
According to earlier reports, a 26-year-old Schaumburg driver struck Deacon about 1:30 a.m. April 28 as he stood on Barrington Road, near Willow Creek Church. His mother said she went to the scene and said it appeared her son was in the median.
"Charges have not been filed. It does not necessarily mean they will not be," said South Barrington Deputy Chief Ray Cordell.
He said crash reconstructionists have been trying to piece together exactly what happened.
Police said Deacon was alone when he was struck by the vehicle, and that officers spoke with the driver and a passenger in the vehicle at the scene. Cordell said a blood sample was taken from the driver and police had received the results, but he would not comment on them because of the ongoing investigation.
The driver was never taken into custody, and police said they have not spoken with him since the night the crash occurred.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
• Daily Herald staff writer Paul Biasco contributed to this report.