4 High School Students Who Died in Illinois Crash Remembered as 'Loving' and 'Wonderful' Sons
All four teens killed in Tuesday's crash were students at Buffalo Grove High School, according to school officials
Four high schoolers died and another was hospitalized after they were involved in a deadly car crash in Illinois this week.
The Wheeling Police Department (WPD) said Tuesday's three-car collision occurred just after 10:15 p.m. local time at the intersection of Dundee and Schoenbeck Roads.
Authorities said a Ford Explorer was traveling east on Dundee Road when it ran a red light and hit a Genesis that was turning onto the same street, according to The Daily Herald. The Explorer subsequently struck a Ford Edge that was attempting to turn on to Schoenbeck, and also hit a light pole that fell onto power lines, the outlet reported.
"Speed and a disregarded traffic signal seem to be the primary factors involved at this time," police said. An investigation is ongoing.
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Seven people were hospitalized after they were extracted from their respective vehicles, according to Wednesday's statement from the WPD. "Regretfully, four teens, between the ages [of] 16 and 18 who were occupants of the primary vehicle have lost their lives," police wrote.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the four victims Wednesday as three Wheeling teens — 18-year-old Richard De Ita, 17-year-old Kevin Hernandez-Teran and 16-year-old Jesus Rodriguez — and 17-year-old Arlington Heights resident Ricky Barcenas, according to NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV.
The Medical Examiner did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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On Wednesday, High School District 214 in Cook County confirmed with the "deepest sorrow" that the four teens who died were students at Buffalo Grove High School. Additionally, another student was hospitalized, they shared.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these students during this time of tragedy," the district said in a statement on Wednesday. "We also offer condolences to all Buffalo Grove students, families and staff members."
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Barcenas' mother, Brenda Lorenzo, said the group of teens had gone out to eat together shortly before Tuesday's crash, according to the Herald.
Rodriguez's sister, Angelina Gomez, said she was traveling behind the car her brother was in when the collision occurred, WMAQ-TV and CBS affiliate WBBM-TV reported. Gomez said there was a red light and claimed that De Ita, who was behind the wheel of the car, "thought he could beat it," she told the outlets.
After the crash, Gomez exited the vehicle she was in "and just started running" toward the wreckage. "When I ran there were car parts everywhere and it was dark everywhere," she told WMAQ-TV, saying she was in "shock" when she saw her brother.
"He was just there as if he were sleeping," she said.
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Separate fundraisers have been set up for Rodriguez, Barcenas, De Ita and Hernandez-Teran to help pay for funeral expenses.
Gomez described Rodriguez as "a loving brother and son" who "worked hard to help my dad and mom" according to a message on GoFundme. She told WMAQ-TV that her family is "devastated" by his death.
"My brother, he is so sweet," she told the outlet. "He loved my mom a lot."
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On a separate GoFundMe page, Barcenas' mother said her "wonderful son" was willing to help "everyone" and "was a very hard worker" in life.
"I couldn't have asked for a better child," she wrote in a message shared on the fundraising campaign. "He meant so much to me and everyone else in his life."
Loved ones for Hernandez-Teran and De Ita also shared fond thoughts and memories of the late teens.
Hernandez-Teran's aunt Elena Salgado said her nephew always put family first, and was looking forward to attending college and becoming a Fashion Designer. "He was loved by everyone growing up, and always made sure to be there for his Mother and siblings," the relative wrote.
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In another message, Brenda De Ita said her son "was one of the sweetest, most loving and hard working young boys." He was one week away from graduating, she added.
"He loved enjoying life and bringing a smile to others, but most importantly he loved his family," the mom wrote.
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