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updated: 4/1/2014 5:07 AM

3 from Vernon Hills family killed in Arizona crash

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  • Yuki Hirayama, 16

      Yuki Hirayama, 16

 
 

Three members of a Vernon Hills family were killed Friday in Arizona when a pickup truck being chased by police crashed into their van, authorities said.

A fourth member of the family was injured but survived.

Tomohiro Hirayama, 50, and his wife, Sachiyo, 41, were killed in the crash. So was their 16-year-old son, Yuki.

Yuki's 9-year-old sister, Rinka, survived and was taken to Phoenix Children's Hospital in Arizona, where she remains.

The accident happened about 9 p.m. Friday on U.S. Route 160, about 90 miles north of Flagstaff, Ariz., police spokesman Raul Garcia said.

Navajo Nation police were chasing a Ford pickup truck east on the road at the time near Tuba City, Garcia said. He said 911 reports were received that the pickup was driving erratically within Tuba City before the pursuit.

With police about 1 mile behind the pickup, it crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a Chrysler van in which the Hirayama family was riding, Garcia said.

The pickup truck burst into flames. The driver and passenger died and have not been identified, Garcia said.

A Navajo police representative couldn't be reached for comment.

Yuki was a sophomore at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. He transferred to Stevenson at the beginning of the current school year from Holland, spokesman Jim Conrey said.

Yuki was a member of a club for transfer students at Stevenson High, Conrey said. He also was involved with the fencing program and was in the English language learners program.

Yuki was remembered Monday as a happy teen who was very pleasant.

"People liked being around him," Conrey said.

Officials told the Stevenson community about the accident on the school website and on social media.

Rinka is a third-grader at Half Day School in Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire-Prairie View Elementary District 103 Superintendent Scott Warren told parents about the accident in an electronic message Monday.

"We are extremely sad to learn of this tragic news, and we express our sympathy to Rinka and all whose lives have been impacted," Warren wrote.

The family had moved here because of a job opportunity, Conrey said. They have no close relatives living in the U.S., he said.

Rinka's grandparents have been contacted in Japan and will travel to Arizona to be with her, officials said.

Stevenson High students and teachers learned of the tragedy Monday morning, the first day of classes after spring break.

"I know some of Yuki's teachers are having a hard time teaching today," Conrey said.

Counseling will be available for grieving students.

Memorial information was not immediately available.

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