HS freshman fatally struck at cross country practice

September 16, 2011 (PALOS HILLS, Ill.)

Fourteen-year old Patrick Mizwicki was a freshman runner at Lincoln-Way East High School in Frankfort.

Mizwicki was with his cross country team Thursday in unincorporated Palos Township training through the Teasons Woods when he was struck by the vehicle, according to Lincoln-Way officials. The crash happened around 5:30 p.m..

A spokesperson for the Cook County Sheriff's Department says the teenager was alone when he attempted to cross the street at 104th Avenue near Route 83. He apparently stopped for an oncoming southbound car but failed to see another vehicle coming in the opposite direction.

The driver of the northbound vehicle tried to hit the brakes but was unable to avoid hitting Mizwicki.

Mizwicki was rushed to Christ Hospital where he later died.

News of Mizwicki's death brought a great deal of sadness to his classmates. Lincoln-Way East provided counselors Friday for those students who needed someone to talk to. A sign of remembrance has been placed outside the school.

"He was such a great friend. I would see him in the hallways. He just had the biggest smile on his face everyday. He could have his problems, but he never showed them. He was just a great friend and a great student," said Annie Gerdes, student.

"If you were having a bad day, he didn't care if you were his best friend or you were the weirdest person. He would talk to you like you were his family," said Hunter Shodden, student.

Counselors also went classroom to classroom at his former middle school from which he just graduated a few months ago.

"Pat always had a smile on his face. He made everyone laugh, coaches, teachers, and that's what I'll remember about Pat. He's always making everyone smile," said Hickory Creek Middle School Principal Kevin Suchinski.

"He was a kid you wanted on the team because whatever you asked him do, he did, from playing positions and from everything that he did and the way that his family raised him," said Tom Carli, Mizwicki's former baseball coach.

The school says the area where the accident happened is often used by cross country teams to practice. There were six local teams training at the time this happened.

Runner Rebecca Follenweiger runner says it's not uncommon for runners to get separated.

"I ran cross country at Mount Assisi. When you run, everyone has at a different pace, so you get left behind, some people are faster. And that's the way it is. You should definitely be aware and look out for yourself because it is dangerous," said Follenweiger.

Police say the driver cooperated fully with them and was issued a citation, but at this time this is being looked at as a tragic accident.

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