A tree limb weighing an estimated one ton fell on 16-year-old Kyle Zuleg Saturday evening. Zuleg died from injuries he suffered after he was hit when the tree limb snapped and fell on top of him and his friend, 13-year-old Tom Harless. Harless survived.
His friends say Zuleg loved the outdoors and he was part of a group of several families that went camping together every fall. But the trip turned out to be fatal following what has been described as a terrible accident.
High school homecoming week is filled with tradition and fun. But at Monday night's bonfire at Nequa Valley High School to kick off a week's worth of festivities students were thinking about their classmate killed over the weekend. Zuleg's friends are remembering the student athlete with the great sense of humor.
"Knowing how a great of a kid he was, it's hard to know I saw him the day before, and it was just, like, 'I'll see you after the camping trip.' I didn't know that was the last time I'd be able to talk to him," said Michael Meschino, classmate.
Investigators say Harless and Zuleg were playing flashlight tag in messenger woods in a Will County forest preserve around 8 o'clock Saturday night. Witnesses say they heard the limb cracking but it was difficult to see because it was night time.
When authorities arrived they found the two teens pinned underneath the tree limb that fell from 60 feet off the ground. Police say the tree limb weighed nearly 2,000 pounds and was about 30 feet long.
"What we are trying to as a school is do everything we can to support Kyle's family, to support the students and staff that worked with him," said Robert McBride, principal.
Zuleg was Junior Varsity volleyball player and a member of the Wildcat weekly news program. On Monday night, his teacher celebrated his talent and dedication to his craft.
"It's tough. The school's having a tough time right now dealing with it. The hardest part today was coming into the classroom and seeing an empty chair where he normally sits. And that hit a lot of students hard," said Lisa Trout, broadcasting teacher.
Doctors say Harless is expected to recover from his injuries. His family has requested that no information be released on his condition. He remains hospitalized at Children's Memorial.
Crisis counselors will be available at the high school for students who need them.