4 Buffalo Grove High School students killed in Wheeling crash
WHEELING, Ill. - A suburban high school community is stunned and looking for answers, after a horrific car crash killed four students.
The boys, between 16 and 18 years old, all attended Buffalo Grove High School, which is now offering grief counseling to students.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, a steady stream of teenagers gathered at the Wheeling crash site, leaving flowers and pictures of their four classmates, who are suddenly gone.
"I guess there's no other word to use but surreal," said Spencer Smith, a junior at Buffalo Grove High School. "You hear about things like this, but it's a crazy feeling something like this happens right by your house, to people you know."
Wheeling police said the car carrying the four students was heading east on Dundee when it slammed into another vehicle at the intersection of Schoenbeck Road. Neighbor Don Johnson heard the crash from inside his house.
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"I heard two big booms, loud bangs. I didn’t hear any screeching tires. I knew it was gonna be a bad accident," he said.
Wheeling police said excessive speed and a disregarded traffic signal seem to be the primary factors in the accident.
Killed were 17-year-old Ricky Barcenas of Arlington Heights, 16-year-old Jesus Rodriguez of Wheeling, 17-year-old Kevin Hernandez of Wheeling, and 18-year-old Richard De-Ita of Wheeling.
Barcenas was in the backseat during the crash. The Lake County Coroner's Office said a preliminary investigation indicated he died from blunt force injuries.
Wheeling Village President Pat Horcher said the community is in shock.
"This is the kind of event that affects the community, and you have to recognize it’s going to impact a lot of people besides just the families of the deceased and the families of the injured," Horcher said.
Three others were also extricated from the scene and taken to local hospitals. Their conditions were unknown.
One of the vehicles crashed into a utility pole, causing the power to be knocked out in the area. Power was restored by ComEd about an hour after the crash.
Buffalo Grove High School was closed on Wednesday because of a fire Tuesday night. But counselors were made available to meet with grieving students.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these students during this time of tragedy. We also offer condolences to all Buffalo Grove students, families and staff members," a school district spokesman said in a statement.
Buffalo Grove High School senior Jack Cadre said the four teens who were killed were all friends.
"They were all close. I know they were all really close. Everyone loved them. Never heard a single bad thing about any of them. It’s just unbelievable," he said.
A neighbor said police need to do something to control the intersection where the accident happened because cars are constantly speeding down Dundee.
"There’s a lot of houses, a lot of businesses. It needs to be enforced. I don’t see any cameras here. I don't know if there's any at this intersection or not. But it seems like there needs to be, especially after this," he said.
Buffalo Grove High School will be closed again on Thursday because of the fire, but counselors will be made available between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Shuttle buses will be provided to take grieving students to and from the school.
"No one in the car, anyone, Ricky, no one deserved anything that happened to them. I can’t wrap my head around that someone in our community that young is gone," said Cadre.
Graduation for BGHS seniors is scheduled to take place next Wednesday.