Community mourns death of 4 teens

March 12, 2013 8:47:09 PM PDT
Mourners have been gathering at the scene where four teenagers were killed when their car plunged into a creek to remember the young lives lost.

All four victims attended the same high school.

The accident happened near Wilmington, about 60 miles southwest of Chicago.

All night, groups of young people came to the scene to light candles and just be together. For the people of Wilmington, population less than 6,000, this loss cuts deep.

There was a search for peace Tuesday night by a community left reeling.

"I'm devastated right now," said John Widner, friend of the victims. "My heart's in my chest right now."

There were four quilts placed at the altar, one for each young life cut short.

"It hasn't really hit me yet until we had a moment of silence, and we have my church praying for them. It's just not right," said Aaron Wilkerson, friend of the victims.

After the service, dozens gathered at the scene of the crash where earlier the victims' Mitsubishi Eclipse was found submerged in water.

Killed were to 14-year-old Matthew Bailey, 15-year-old Micalah Sembach, 15-year-old Cody Carter and 17-year-old Cheyenne Fender, who was behind the wheel.

All four had been missing since Monday evening.

"By about 6:30, 7 we knew," said Melissa Robertson, Micalah Sembach's aunt. "All of them weren't answering their phones. We knew they were all together."

One of the car's tires was spotted by a school bus driver Tuesday morning while going over the bridge at Forked Creek where a guardrail is now missing.

The car's windows were rolled up, the teens found dead inside.

"There could have been water and icing on the roadway just before the bridge," said Will County Sheriff's spokesperson Ken Kaupus.

"That's the last thing you want to hear of your son or daughter or grandchild is gone before you," said Cheyenne Fender's aunt, Kim Fender.

All were current or students at Wilmington High School and that's where many learned the tragic news.

"I was in, first hour when I heard the news, I went to the bathroom and just cried," Widner said.

Authorities continue to investigate the cause of the crash. They will try to determine the exact speed of the vehicle, as well as the road conditions at the time of the accident.