Buffalo Grove High School students return to class for 1st time since 4 classmates killed in crash

Victims identified as Ricky Barcenas, Jesus Rodriguez, Richard De Ita, Kevin Hernandez

Diane Pathieu Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Buffalo Grove HS students return to class after 4 killed in crash
Buffalo Grove High SChool students returned to class Friday for the first time since four classmates were killed in a crash in Wheeling.

WHEELING, Ill. (WLS) -- Students are back in class for the first time since four of their classmates were killed in a car crash.

Friday morning, the community is responding in a big way by helping the families as best they could.

"I just felt bad," student Madison Coble said. "I just was like that is really sad that it happened in our community."

"Everyone was confused why it happened and it was a lot for them," student Tyler Berschelden said. "They were all upset."

As the memorial at the crash site continues to grow, students are making their way back to class for the first time without four of their classmates.

Sixteen-year-old Jesus Rodriguez, 17-year-old Ricky Barcenas, 17-Year-old Kevin Hernandez and 18-year-old Richard de Ita were all killed in a car crash Tuesday night. A fifth student was badly hurt.

Police said de Ita, who was driving, ran a red light and crashed into two other cars and a light pole.

For the last two days, classes were canceled at Buffalo Grove High School due to an unrelated fire. But school resumed Friday morning.

It's not just the high school affected. Two students at Field Elementary are siblings of two of the deceased.

Both Jesus Rodriguez and Kevin Hernandez not only have a brother and sister that go to the school, but they went here themselves.

The principal is rallying around their families and making sure they, along with her students and staff, feel supported.

"We are a family and right away everyone came together immediately and made them selves available," Field Elementary School Principal Crystal Jimenez said. "Part of that is our school psychologist and social worker. They came together right away and said, 'How can we help?' So we have them ready for our students as well as our staff."

Local restaurant, Grande Jakes Fresh Mexican Grill is donating lunch for school staff. Two local businesses are holding a gift card drive to help the grieving families. They are Moe's Cafe, 3133 N Elmhurst Rd, Wheeling and Alianza Hispanic Income Tax, 27 N Elmhurst Rd, Wheeling.

At the High School Friday, grief counselors are being made available to students that need it, along with the comfort dogs. A tribute will be made to the students killed that were set to graduate next Wednesday.