Longtime friends Joseph Kleiman and Mahatkumar Patel, or Jake and Mahat to those who knew them best, were making their way back to the Northwest suburbs from another good friend's vacation home when tragedy struck.
The 20-year-olds, both 2011 graduates of Schaumburg High School, died Tuesday afternoon when their car collided with a pickup truck at about 4:55 p.m. in Christiana, Wis., about 20 miles southeast of Madison, according to a news release from the Dane County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said a preliminary investigation determined Kleiman, of Schaumburg, and Patel, of Hanover Park, were traveling west on Highway PQ when their 2002 black Acura sedan ran a stop sign. It was struck by a 2008 blue Ford F250 headed south on Highway 73.
Patel was driving and Kleiman was in the passenger's seat, authorities said. Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.
Kleiman was finance major in the honors program at DePaul University, older sister Alison Rigsby said. He loved living in Wrigleyville and hoped to one day work for an international finance company evaluating stocks.
"This is very hard," Rigsby said. "He was never mad or mean, just a good kid and a good friend."
She said Kleiman was into music, sports, weightlifting and, most of all, his friends. She said her brother and Patel had remained close after high school, even vacationing together in Mexico.
"They had a close bond," Rigsby said.
Patel would have been a junior at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he was in the Honors College majoring in biomedical and health information sciences.
He was a member of the Indian Student Association and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The Greek community at UIC turned to Twitter to express their condolences.
At Schaumburg High School, Patel played varsity tennis and was inducted into the National Honor Society.
Friends described him as a responsible and motivated student who always had his friends' backs. He planned to go into the medical field.
Autopsies conducted Wednesday showed the two men died from the injuries they sustained in the crash, according to the Dane County medical examiner's office, which is conducting additional testing.
The driver of the Ford truck, a 63-year-old woman from Illinois, was flown to the University of Wisconsin hospital with injuries not considered to be life-threatening.
Both the woman and Kleiman were wearing seat belts; Patel was not, authorities said.