Teens killed in McHenry crash had passion for automotive repair

Two of the three 18-year-olds who died in a car crash Friday in McHenry County are being remembered for their passion for working on and souping up trucks - a passion that ended too soon.

James Seward of McHenry and girlfriend Promise Williamsen of Holiday Hills worked on their trucks together as a hobby, but they were also both pursuing automotive repair as a career, said Bob Arnold, owner of Chapel Hill Tire and Automotive in McHenry, where Seward worked as a technician.

Seward went to school to be a technician and got his first job at Arnold's repair shop six months ago.

Williamsen was taking automotive classes at McHenry County College, according to her Facebook page, which includes photos of her working on her Chevrolet truck and posing in front of her 1994 Chevrolet Camaro.

"They were Chevy people," Arnold said. "She had her own big truck. I used to tease James she had a bigger, shinier truck than his."

Seward, Williamsen and friend Kelly Cronin of Island Lake were killed Friday afternoon when their car veered off the roadway and struck multiple trees on the 1300 block of South Lily Lake Road in unincorporated Nunda Township.

The vehicle, Williamsen's Chevrolet Camaro, which was being driven by Seward, came to rest on its left side in a wet ravine against another tree, according to the McHenry County sheriff's office, which on Saturday was still investigating the cause of the crash.

On Saturday, those who knew the three teens posted tributes and memories of them on social media.

McHenry County College's Facebook page posted a message sending thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Williamsen and the other victims.

"She will be missed by all. We are keeping her loved ones in our thoughts, as well as the loved ones of the two others who also lost their lives from that accident," the message read.

Arnold said Seward "lived and breathed" automotive and was very knowledgeable in the repair shop, despite his young age.

"I could give him anything (to fix) and it wouldn't be an issue at all," Arnold said.

What undoubtedly helped, Arnold said, was the time Seward spent restoring a 1978 pickup truck with his dad. After four years in the garage, they finished their work this summer and were able to finally take it on the road.

Beyond his technical skill, Seward will be remembered for his personality, Arnold said.

"He was a great kid. He was a very respectful kid. He's the kind of kid you'd want for your own son."

3 die in car crash

This memorial to Promise Williamsen, James Seward and Kelly Cronin was left by friends where Williamsen's 1994 Chevrolet Camaro left Lily Lake Road in McHenry County Friday afternoon in a single-car accident that killed the three 18-year-olds. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago
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