Just after the news that six teens were killed in a car accident, comes word that four more teens were killed in a similar incident. The teens died yesterday, after the car they were riding in overturned into a creek in Wilmington, Ill.
Families of the teens reported them missing around midnight, according to Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas. “[I was] praying, begging, pleading, willing to trade,” said Melissa Robertson, who cried as the car was towed out of the creek, praying that one of those dead was not her niece, Micalah Sembach. “Fifteen years old. I’m already tired,” she continued. “She didn’t have a chance to get tired…I’m old and tried. I would have gladly gone in her place.”
Sembach’s family knew something was wrong by Monday evening, after the teen made it home from school, dropped her backpack off, and left to go out with friends. She had spoken with her mother earlier, who told her to be home by 5 p.m. “That was it,” said Robertson. “’Love you. Bye.’ Happy, normal ending of a conversation.”
The family called police when she was 30 minutes late. “When she was told to be home, give or take two minutes, she was home,” Robertson explained. “That’s how much of a good kid she was. So we knew.”
Before getting official word, family members mobilized on Facebook, and hit the streets in search of Sembach. By the next morning, a parent contacted Robertson, to tell her about the crashed car.
At around 7 a.m., students riding on a school bus passing the scene, noticed the back of a wheel sticking out of the water. A dive team was sent to the scene, and confirmed that the car— a 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse— was registered to a relative of one of the victims. The water reportedly came up to the rescuers’ chins. “There is water on the roadway that has receded even since last night that could’ve been a factor [in the crash],” said Kaupas.
As of 10 a.m., the vehicle had been removed, and the coroner arrived at the scene. A blue tarp was held up as the bodies were removed.
A homeowner near the crash site said that ice on the road, and standing water, may have covered the bridge that the vehicle drove over. Investigators have not yet determined how the car ended up in the water, but it appeared to have flipped over a guard rail.
The small town, located 52 miles from Chicago, has been rocked by the tragedy. “These kids have touched everybody’s life in some way,” said Wilmington Mayor Marty Orr. “We’ll cope. That’s the beauty of Wilmington. We’ll lean on each other, we’ll get through this.”
Identities of all four victims have yet to be release, but the remaining three – two boys and a girl—were between the ages of 14 and 17. At least one of the victims is believed to have attended Wilmington High School.
Wilmington’s tragedy is the third car accident involving teens in the last couple of days. Officials in Texas announced today that five teens in Amarillo were killed in a car accident after their vehicle ran a stop sign, colliding with a fuel tanker and bursting into flames.
See photos from Wilmington below.
Photos:Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/Mike Voss/Daily Journal/AP