Family, friends remember lives lost in Schaumburg crash
A week after a double-fatal crash on Springinsguth Road in Schaumburg, family and friends of both drivers remembered their lives with fondness and love Tuesday.
Erin Semerad, 39, of Schaumburg died at the scene just after 7 p.m. Oct. 26 when her car was struck on the driver's side by a vehicle driven by 19-year-old Elk Grove Village resident Michael J. Owsiany.
Though the police investigation continues, preliminary findings indicate that Owsiany was fleeing the scene of a less serious collision in which his car clipped the back of another vehicle, according to Schaumburg police.
Owsiany's passenger, 23-year-old Ashley E. Trenholm of Schaumburg, is listed in stable condition at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, police said.
Semerad's mother and sister remembered her Tuesday as someone dedicated to children and who always put the needs of others before her own.
"She was one of the sweetest human beings I've ever known," Semerad's mother, Nancy Bonitzer, said tearfully. "She was kind and dedicated to all her family and friends."
Semerad's sister, Jessica Gapinski, said her sibling had been a classroom assistant and substitute bus driver at Lake Barrington Academy of Stars after previous jobs as a nanny, day care worker and caregiver for mentally disabled adults.
"She was such a sweet person. Pretty much everything she did was for everybody else," Gapinski said. "She always had a positive attitude. She never had anything bad to say about anyone. I kind of wish I could live my life the same way she did."
Semerad is survived by her husband, Greg, who could not be reached Tuesday.
Roadside memorials for both Semerad and Owsiany lie opposite one another at the intersection of Springinsguth Road and Hartmann Drive.
Two of Owsiany's longtime friends, Tyshawn Turner of Itasca and Nolan Faught of Hoffman Estates, visited his memorial Tuesday afternoon, something they said they've been doing every day.
They said their friend -- nicknamed "Swanny" after a common mispronunciation of his last name -- had been getting his life on the right track and planning a future with Trenholm. Though Owsiany and Trenholm had been dating only a matter of months, their relationship was serious, Faught said.
Turner said he spoke with Trenholm on the phone Monday night and is confident she will recover.
At the time of the crash, Trenholm had been days away from being sentenced on a charge of driving under the influence in downstate McLean County. The charge stems from an October 2013 crash that left her friend and passenger Jesse Sternberg of Schaumburg paralyzed, according to the Bloomington-based Pantagraph newspaper.
Her attorney, Jeff Hall, said Trenholm has undergone several surgeries over the past week for multiple broken bones she suffered in last week's crash. Her court case has been postponed to December.
Schaumburg police Cmdr. David Wermes said investigators plan to speak to Trenholm within the next couple of days.