Friends say Jordan Oliver jumped into a Bolingbrook pond even though she didn't know how to swim.
Her grieving father, Jamal Oliver, talked about the family's loss as grief counselors help friends and classmates cope with her death.
"Our daughter Jordan was a born leader. Bright, inquisitive, loud and boisterous. We are saddened by her passing," said Oliver. "She lit up everything you were around. It was impossible not to feel good when she was around."
Jordan was the youngest of four siblings, popular in school and around her neighborhood.
Despite only being in the fifth grade, she was friends with older girls, some of whom she was with Wednesday when one of them was heard saying "you only live once" as a reason to jump from a footbridge into a pond that clearly has 'no swimming' signs around it.
"Jordan jumped in the shallow part because she said she couldn't swim," said Kierra Martin, witness. "It got to the point where they kept doing it over and over and ended up in the middle of the bridge. Jordan jumped. She went down and came up from the water twice screaming."
Jordan was pulled out nearly an hour later by divers. She was15 feet under water.
Students arriving at Pioneer Elementary School Wednesday were greeted by crisis teams which were also deployed to the middle school where Jordan's friends are enrolled and to Bolingbrook High School, where two of her siblings are students.
"We want the day to stay as normal as possible. That's the best way to help the children in particular. But this school is devastated. This community is devastated. This is a real tragedy," said Larry Randa, Valley View School District spokesperson.
At the pond mourners dropped off flowers and teddy bears. Neighborhood residents struggled as to how to tell their own children about what happened.
"My daughter came this morning and said, 'where's Jordan.' She's six years old. She's her patrol," said Josiane Mambe, neighbor. "We've known her since she was born. She came here, she was playing with the kids, we're just like family here."
For Jordan's father, the heartbreak is unimaginable.
"What do I tell myself? I don't know. We're working through it one day at a time," he said.