Rescuing trapped driver makes prom even more memorable for Hoffman Estates High senior
Stefan Knappik was driving his girlfriend home from Hoffman Estates High School's senior prom Saturday when they came across something that made the special night even more memorable.
Heading back from the event at the Chicago Marriott Northwest in Hoffman Estates, the Schaumburg teen turned at the intersection of Golf and Barrington roads and spotted a car lying on its roof.
Hanging upside down inside the flipped car was Jake Largo of Schaumburg, who had been on his way to pick up his wife, Kerri -- a Hoffman Estates High teacher who was chaperoning the prom -- when he was involved in a two-vehicle crash.
Though Stefan hadn't seen the crash, he estimates he arrived no more than 30 seconds afterward.
"I pulled over right away," he said. "People were all stopping."
Stefan believes his fellow rescuers included a nurse from the nearby St. Alexius Medical Center and the driver of the other vehicle in the crash.
Largo said Stefan stood out in his prom tuxedo at the bizarre scene.
"The first face I saw was Stefan's," Largo said.
He estimates less than a minute elapsed between finding himself upside down and being helped out the rear passenger's-side door. During that time, in what felt like slow motion, Largo turned off the car, unbuckled his seat belt, called his wife to tell her he wasn't going to be able to pick her up because of an accident and found his glasses, he said.
Very quickly he heard voices outside the car asking if he was all right. He assured them he was. Every instinct was to get out of the car as fast as possible, but he didn't want to be dragged out. He found he could crawl into the back and out the door his rescuers had opened for him.
Though 911 had been called immediately, police and paramedics arrived to find everyone involved in the crash already out of the vehicles and on their feet.
"They responded pretty quick," Stefan said of the officers and firefighters.
Hoffman Estates police said their investigation of the 11:17 p.m. crash has come down to determining who had the right of way on a turn. They are awaiting video from the red-light camera there. The driver of the other vehicle involved is a 23-year-old DeKalb man.
Largo said he hopes the occupants of the other car are well, as he's continued to feel new aches and pains from his minor bruises.
"Aspirin has been my friend," he said with a laugh.
Paramedics looked Largo over at the scene and he declined when they asked him whether he felt he needed to go to the hospital.
Largo said it was important to him and his wife to thank those who'd helped him, but the memory of the tux was their only clue of how to begin a search. His wife reached out on social media for any prom goer who might have been there that night. She heard back from Stefan on Monday afternoon.
The Largos went to visit him later Monday at his last lacrosse game of the season -- his final activity as a Hoffman Estates High student. He will attend the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in the fall to major in psychology and possibly go pre-med.
"He was surprised to see me again," Largo said of the reunion. "I wish him the best in his future."