'He was a good kid, a great kid': Families, friends mourn Buffalo Grove High students killed in crash
Teenagers with flowers and memorial candles visited a busy Wheeling intersection Wednesday to mourn four Buffalo Grove High School students killed the night before in a three-vehicle crash.
Three of the fatally injured teens were Wheeling residents: Richard De Ita, 18; Kevin R. Hernandez-Teran, 17; and Jesus Rodriguez, 16. The fourth was 17-year-old Ricky Barcenas of Arlington Heights.
De Ita was driving a black Ford Explorer in which all the teens were riding, police said. A fifth teen in the Explorer was injured but survived.
Barcenas succumbed to injuries about 2:12 a.m. Wednesday at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, the Lake County coroner's office announced. The others died at hospitals in Cook County.
The drivers of the other two vehicles were injured and survived.
The crash occurred about 10:20 p.m. at Dundee and Schoenbeck roads, not far from the high school the teens attended.
The Explorer was speeding east on Dundee Road when it went through a red light and struck a silver Genesis that was turning from northbound Schoenbeck onto westbound Dundee, police said. The Explorer then hit a blue Ford Edge on Dundee that was preparing to go south on Schoenbeck.
Several people involved in the crash had to be freed from vehicles by firefighters, authorities said.
The Explorer also struck a light pole that fell onto electric lines and knocked out power in the neighborhood for about two hours. The pole remained on its side on the north side of Dundee Road on Wednesday morning.
At the crash site, automobile debris littered stretches of sidewalk and grass. Debris also punched a basketball-sized hole in a glass pane within a nearby bus shelter, the rest of the pane fractured by the impact.
Those gathering at the site remembered their classmates as helpful, funny and nice. And they used words including "devastated" to describe how relatives and friends were feeling.
Buffalo Grove High student Christian Ramirez had been friends with Rodriguez since they met in a geometry and construction class last year.
"During classes we would joke around and play around," said Ramirez, of Wheeling. "He would help me a lot with girls."
Student Jeffrey Riesterer went to the site Wednesday as well. He also knew Rodriguez.
"He was a good kid, a great kid," said Riesterer, of Arlington Heights. "He was a really nice person to talk to."
Barcenas' mother, Brenda Lorenzo, said her son, a junior, had a 3.89 GPA and was looking forward to college.
"He was just the smartest kid," she said. "I'm glad God let me have him for 17 years."
Lorenzo said her son had been out to eat with friends right before the crash. They texted each other minutes before the crash.
"He was, like, 'Mom, I'll be home in five minutes,'" Lorenzo said. "And then 10 minutes went by and I didn't hear from him. I called him, and he didn't answer. I called his friend, and he didn't answer. And then I heard from one of his friends that there was the accident."
Buffalo Grove High was closed Wednesday because of a small fire the day before. Northwest Suburban High School District 214 officials said counselors and other resources will be available for students when the school reopens.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these students during this time of tragedy," spokeswoman Stephanie Kim said. "We also offer condolences to all Buffalo Grove students, families and staff members."
No information was available Wednesday about the conditions of the three people who survived the crash. All had been taken to hospitals.
In addition to Condell, the victims were taken to Northshore Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.
The crash remains under investigation.
Anyone who witnessed the crash can call Wheeling police at (847) 459-2632.
• Daily Herald staff writers Jake Griffin and Steve Zalusky contributed to this story.