HICKORY HILLS, Ill. (CBS) — A teen driver has been charged with reckless homicide, after four fellow teenagers were killed in a grisly crash in southwest suburban Hickory Hills over the weekend, after police said the driver tried to “go airborne” over a hill.
Six people were in the 2008 Mercedes SUV, which hit a tree and split in two on 89th Street at 86th Court around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Two of the victims were pronounced dead on the scene, and two more also later died from their injuries.READ MORE: 1-Year-Old Boy, 19-Year-Old Man Shot In Gary, Indiana
All the victims who died were teenagers from southwest suburban Justice: 17-year-old Omarion Rieves, 17-year-old Nathaniel Phillips, 16-year-old Destiny Giera, and 15-year-old Jemerrio Rieves.
Monday afternoon, Hickory Hills Police said the 17-year-old driver has been charged as a juvenile with reckless homicide, and also faces traffic citations. The driver’s name is not being released due to their age.
Police said it appeared the driver was trying to “go airborne over the crest of the hill at 86th.”
“After travelling through the intersection at 86th Avenue, the vehicle did go airborne, as described by a witness,” police said in a statement.
People who live in the neighborhood said the car must have been going at an extremely high rate of speed when it hit a tree and split in two, but police have yet to say exactly how fast it was going.
Sunday was an emotional day and evening at the scene. There were balloon release and separate candlelight vigils for the victims – each another reminder of the sheer number of lives young lost.
Memorials were also set up with candles, plush toys, boxes of favorite breakfast cereal. And the crash has left behind deep scars.
It was around 2:30 p.m. Saturday when 17-year-old Nathan Phillips’ father was having a hard time reaching him.
“I started calling him. I’m like, ‘Maybe his phone is dead,’” said Kenneth Roberts.
He would later be the one to tell the rest of his family that his 17-year-old son would not be coming home.
“They miss him dearly right now – and when we broke the news last night, it was kind of devastating,” Roberts said.
Roberts said Phillips appeared to be a passenger in the car. He shared a photo of their last trip together as father and son.READ MORE: Law To Allow Permanent No-Contact Orders In Sex Convictions
Phillips was a senior in senior high school who had just gotten a new job, according to his father.
Two other victims were brothers – Omarion and Jemerrio Rieves.
“It hurts, like real bad,” said Raven Hazelett.
“I knew Jemerrio and Omarion – they were one of my closest friends,” said Rachel Grau. “They were always full of joy, and they were always full of laughter; like they were fun to hang around with. Everyone knew them.”
“Really young, like 16 or 17 years old,” said Janet Ramos.
Young friends of the fourth victim, 16-year-old , tried to wrap their head around her loss.
“It’s honestly really sad, because she could have done so much more,” said Yeneliz Delmoral. “She was so smart and capable of so much more, but I don’t know.”
It was a loss of potential and a growing grief for the parents who loved the young people unconditionally.
“Like everything in me wants to just lay down and I just want to cry – but I know if I do that, I’m never going to get up,” Roberts said.
There are a lot of lingering questions about the crash. Among the unanswered questions is why officers from the Blue Island Police Department showed up not long after the crash happened – as neighbors told CBS 2’s Meredith Barack on Saturday.
Blue Island is more than 12 miles away from Hickory Hills.
Hickory Hills police have yet to explain why a Blue Island police car was at the scene, but have said the crash is under investigation, alongside the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team.MORE NEWS: Arab Americans in Illinois Will Finally Be Counted When They Get Their Vaccine
Neighbors have said speed is a frequent issue in the neighborhood.