Two South Elgin High students killed in morning crash with dump truck

Two South Elgin High School students were killed and two others injured when the car they were in collided with a dump truck earlier Thursday on Route 25 in Bartlett.

Bartlett police said all four students inside the 2002 Honda Civic were teenage girls.

One of the girls was pronounced dead at the scene. A second was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died from injuries sustained in the crash.

  Tow truck drivers prepare to clear the scene of a fatal crash Thursday involving South Elgin High School students. Rick West/

The male dump truck driver, the driver of the Honda and a passenger in the Honda were taken to a hospital with injuries that weren't considered life-threatening.

The crash happened about 7 a.m. near the intersection of Route 25 and Kenyon Road.

Images from the crash site show the two vehicles careened off the road and into a nearby cornfield. The dump truck had tipped onto its side after the crash. Its front end appears to have collided with the passenger's side of the Honda.

William Luchsinger, chief at the South Elgin & Countryside Fire Protection District, said rescue workers had to remove the roof of the Honda to extricate the girls from the car.

Luchsinger said many of the first responders were shaken by the scene.

"It's extremely difficult and tragic for them to have to experience this," he said. "Our process now is in the healing mode for our first responders, for the students at the high school and the community as a whole."

The girls' high school, which is in Elgin Area School District U-46, is a little less than a mile west of Route 25, along Kenyon.

The district made school social workers and counselors available for emotional support for students, staff members and students' families.

U-46 Superintendent Suzanne Johnson praised the response from within the district in the aftermath of the crash.

"Thankfully, because we are such a large school district in U-46, we have tremendous resources," she said. "I cannot say enough about our extensive teams of social workers, guidance counselors, administrators, teachers who have jumped to support South Elgin High School, and to be there to be able to help sub in classes as needed, to fill counseling or grief centers, just to be there to listen and to provide support for students."

The start of the school year was disrupted by a fake bomb threat at the high school, and then Thursday's tragedy.

"It's unspeakable. It's one of those things you hope you never have to go through," South Elgin Principal Kurt Johansen said. "It's been a trying week for the students, the staff, the community, the district. It's been a challenging week."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

• Daily Herald staff writers Rick West and Susan Sarkauskas contributed to this report.

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