Officials have identified the victim of a fatal two-car crash Sunday morning on southbound I-55 as a 28-year-old Crystal Lake man.
The DuPage County coroner said in a news release that preliminary findings indicate Erick Raul Mota-Benitez died from multiple traumatic injuries as a result of the crash. He was pronounced dead at the scene, near Lemont Road in Darien.
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Sarai Tello-Butler, who said she met Mota-Benitez at a bus stop when she was a sophomore and he was freshman at Crystal Lake Central High School after he had just moved from Veracruz, Mexico, said he "just a great person overall."
Tello-Butler, who said his his family became close to hers, said she remembers Mota-Benitez was a great dancer who loved music.
"That was his passion," she said, adding that Mota-Benitez "had a smile for everyone."
Aside from seeing each other at church, the two didn't spend much time together in recent years. But Tello-Butler said she was still devastated to hear the news of her friend's death.
"He loved unconditionally," she said. "He was just full of life and just very happy."
On Sunday night, Tello-Butler saw Mota-Benitez's mother and grandmother, whom she said he lived with along with a cousin.
"His grandma told me that she's still waiting for him to come home," Tello-Butler said as she choked back tears. "She's very elderly so I think she's still in shock. She's still waiting."
Tello-Butler's cousin, Alejandra Catalan, said in a Facebook message that she saw Mota-Benitez on Saturday night at Hearts Night Club in Chicago a few hours before he died. She said they hadn't seen each other in years and she was happy to give him a hug.
"I still can't believe he's gone," Catalan wrote.
Toxicology results are pending. State police and the coroner continue to investigate.