Family, friends remember three teens killed in 'tragic accident'
Friends and family are remembering three former Plainfield North High School students who were killed Monday when a semitrailer truck struck their car in unincorporated Kendall County.
On Tuesday, some of those mourners visited the crash site at Schlapp Road and Route 126, where Plainfield residents Tyler Montgomery, 19, and Brian Herrera, 19, were both pronounced dead following the crash. Alexis Banuelos, 18, of Naperville, was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, where she died later Monday, authorities said.
Among the visitors were Alexis' parents, Ricardo and Raquel, who said they hold no one at fault for the "tragic accident."
Police said the truck hit the teens' car after Herrera pulled in front of it from a stop sign on southbound Schlapp Road. The car entered the intersection where the truck driver, heading east on Route 126, couldn't stop in time to avoid the collision, police said.
The truck driver did not have a stop sign. He was not cited.
"We have no ill will toward anybody involved," Ricardo Banuelos said Tuesday. "We know the truck driver did everything in his power to stop. We're just hurting right now."
Tyler and Alexis, who friends said were a couple, attended Joliet Junior College. All three teens became friends several years ago while attending Plainfield North.
School officials said Tyler graduated in 2010 and Alexis graduated a year later. Brian was last enrolled in one of Plainfield North's alternative programs in early 2011, but school officials said he did not graduate.
Plainfield North is on summer break, so officials said they will not launch the crisis plan that typically would go into effect in response to deaths of students or recent alumni.
But former classmates and friends still are grieving.
Jen Larucci, Brianna Edwards and Sarah O'Connor, all 19 and from Plainfield, brought three roses to the site Tuesday and shared memories of the friends they grew up with.
"I'm speechless. It's really hard to believe. We grew up with them. Brian lived down the street from me. I really just can't even wrap my head around it," Larucci said. "But I'm here because I'm thankful for my friends. You never know when you're going to wake up in the morning and they won't be there."
The girls said they were friends with the trio because of their ability to make everyone smile or laugh, even at the little things. Brian was especially comical, they say, and lived with a carefree attitude.
They pointed to his quote beneath his 2011 picture in the Plainfield North yearbook. It reads: "Live fast. Die Young."
"(Brian) never failed to make someone laugh, even over little things," O'Connor said. "He made every day carefree. He just lived it."
Edwards felt the need to visit the site with her friends but said it was hard.
"Being here gives me chills," she said. "Our three friends took their last breaths right here."
Banuelos family friend Samuel Yanez stopped at the site Tuesday as well to say a quick prayer.
"I heard about the tragedy and I saw the pictures, but I just needed to see it to believe it," he said. "It's terrible. My heart goes out to all three families."
Some friends took to the Internet to share their sorrow.
Friend Robbie Tweed posted his thoughts on Facebook, sharing condolences with the victims' families.
"I'm praying earnestly for the families who are mourning the loss of these amazing people ... your children were truly gifts and treasures to many here and have touched so many lives," Tweed said. "I will smile every time I think about you guys."
Friends say Tyler was an aspiring musician who started playing guitar and drums for local bands in elementary school. By high school, he was becoming known by the nickname "Twocansam," and was producing and writing his own hip-hop music.
Tyler was finishing up his second year at Joliet Junior College, getting his general education classes out of the way, before planning to attend Columbia College in the fall for music production, according to friend Ibo Iseini.
"We were about to work on an album," said Iseini, who collaborated with Tyler on a hip-hop song in high school. "He kept saying, 'We have to wait 'til June, we have to wait 'til June.' I saw him two days ago. He was all excited. He was gonna live the dream. And then, just like that, he was gone."
Tyler, as part of the group Midwest Mathmatics, released the album "6 Hits Ta Feed Ya Fix" last year. It's sold at Westfield Fox Valley in Aurora, among other suburban locations, Iseini said.
He also says Tyler was a "super smart kid," taking Advanced Placement and honors classes in high school.
Alexis was studying social work at Joliet Junior College. Her father, Ricardo, said she chose the field because she wanted to help children.
She attended grade school in Berwyn before moving to Plainfield for high school, and her family recently moved to Naperville. Ricardo Banuelos said his daughter was always altruistic.
"She loved her family, her friends -- spending time with both of them," he said. "She loved helping others and was just a fun-loving, happy go-lucky kid."
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available Tuesday for any of the victims.