'Their house was always the place to go': Brother, sister killed in crash with school bus

A sister who was remembered as "always happy" and brother who "really cared about everyone in his life" were identified as the two people killed Monday afternoon in a car crash near Campton Hills.

According to a news release from the Kane County Coroner Rob Russell's office, Grace Diewald, 20, and Emil Diewald, 19, died from blunt force trauma as a result of the crash on Empire Road in Kane County. Both were graduates of Burlington Central High School and lived in Kane County near St. Charles.

The SUV that the Diewalds were riding in crashed into the back of a Central Unit District 301 school bus that was stopped on Empire Road near Kingswood Drive to drop off students from Lily Lake Grade School just before 4 p.m. The 31 children on the bus and the bus driver were not hurt.

Friends of Emil and Grace Diewald remembered the siblings with fondness.

"I was actually calling Grace to ask if she wanted to hang out and wondering why she wasn't answering," said Krystal Nelson, 18, of South Elgin. "Their house was always the place to go."

The siblings' mother confirmed their deaths to her, Nelson said. Emil and Grace were the family's only children.

"Grace was a really hard worker with a lot of goals in life," Nelson said. "She was always happy, no matter what."

Grace was a cheerleader and had attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a while before moving back home, Nelson said.

"I was closer to Grace. She didn't tell me what she wanted to do in life, but she was a really hard worker. She had a bunch of jobs," Nelson said.

As for Emil, who graduated from Burlington Central in May, Nelson said "he loved playing video games" and skateboarded.

"He was just a really chill guy always down to hang out with anyone," she said. "And he really really cared about everyone in his life. He always put others before himself."

The driver of the 2013 Lexus SUV, an 18-year-old Elgin man, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, while a back-seat passenger, a 17- year-old girl from South Elgin, was taken to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital before being airlifted to Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago with life-threatening injuries, according to a news release from the Kane County sheriff's office Monday night.

In a news conference Monday evening, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain said that there "appeared to be no attempt [by the SUV] to slow down at the time" of the crash.

No charges have been filed and no tickets have been issued as police continue to investigate the crash. Investigators will work to determine if speed, distracted driving or drugs or alcohol played a role, the Kane County sheriff's office release stated.

Lauren Head, 19, who graduated from Burlington Central in 2021, said Emil and Grace were just nice people.

"She was very much a happy-go-lucky personality all the time. She was always so nice to everybody," Head said. "Sometimes, people were not the nicest to her, but no matter what, she was super nice to everybody. She was an amazing person, all around."

Head said she thought of Emil as her own younger brother.

"Emil was a great kid," Head said. "He was always awesome, caring after others. He and Grace were really sweet people - very much to lend a shoulder to cry on. They would give anything to anybody."

Nelson created a GoFundMe page for the Diewald family "for funeral costs and any unknown future expenses that they may have."

Two dead after SUV rear-ends bus

  Classmates Emil Diewald, left, and Lexi Macias wait for the start of the Burlington Central High School graduation ceremony in May. Brian Hill/
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