Wrong-way I-90 crash in Hampshire leaves 7 dead, including 5 children from Rolling Meadows: ISP

Neighbor says man hospitalized from crash is Rolling Meadows father of 4 crash victims

ByTre Ward, Eric Horng, and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
Community devastated after 7 killed in Hampshire crash
Lauren Dobosz and her four children, as well as one of their friends, were killed in a car crash overnight Sunday. Her husband Thomas Dobosz was critically injured.

HAMPSHIRE, Ill. (WLS) -- Questions remain after a mother from Rolling Meadows and five children were killed in a fiery crash on I-90 in McHenry County Sunday.

That sole survivor of the crash, Thomas Dobosz, 32, remains hospitalized at Loyola University Medical Center.

A neighbor told ABC7 he lost his wife and all of his children in the crash.

Investigators said just after 2 a.m. Sunday, Dobosz was driving westbound on I-90 near Hampshire in a blue Chevy van when the driver of a gray Acura, identified as 22-year-old Jennifer Fernandez of Carpentersville, was driving in the opposite direction and collided with Dobosz's vehicle head on. Both cars were totally engulfed in flames.

Troopers said they found Fernandez dead on scene, as well as all of Dobosz's passengers, identified as 31-year-old Lauren Dobosz and five children: two 13-year-old girls, 7- and 6-year-old boys, and a 5-year-old girl.

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Neighbors in Rolling Meadows said four of them were the couple's kids, Emma, Lucas, Nicky and Ella. The other 13-year-old girl was a friend, relatives said.

"When you find out it is people you've known for many years, it kind of hits a little harder," David Moreno, a neighbor of the Dobosz family, said. "Losing your family in a split-second like that is not going to be easy for anybody."

"My understanding is one of the eldest daughters had a friend with them," Moreno said. "I know it's going to be devastating for the community just to know that it was somebody that people have known."

"It's just an awful tragedy, and I just can't even express," said Jean Kohlberg, who taught the children at Central Road Elementary. "We would see them all the time and they would wave to me every time. It's just very sad right now."

The Oriole Park Falcons youth cheerleading and football community gathered at Oriole Park in Chicago for a 6 p.m. vigil.

"I can't believe they ended their life this early," said Eric Love, friend of the victims. "They would have been so successful."

Friends say the family was headed on vacation to Minnesota at the time of the crash.

"I loved them down to the core, and I'm so happy they knew how much I loved them," said Wanda Perez, friend. "And I'm so happy that Lauren knew how much I loved her."

"We're going to miss them in our school, they were such cute little shining faces every day, and they're not going to be there now," Kohlberg said.

Lauren Dobosz's co-worker Kenny Felton is reeling with the sudden loss.

"She loved her kids and her husband," Felten said. "That was her life."

"He's going to have a tough road ahead when he finds out what happened and just wish them all the best, and anything we can do, we'll be here for them," Felten said.

Felten said Lauren started working at Lulu's Gaming in Rolling Meadows two months ago. He described her as creative and always willing to help.

"Especially when we first opened, she loved doing graphics and making T-shirts and stuff," Felten said. "She offered to help us make T-shirts for our crew."

He said she always talked about coaching cheerleading for the Oriole Park Falcons. Her husband Thomas was also involved with the football team.

"She was very instrumental in doing stuff for cheer and football, you could tell it was her life being a mom," Felten said.

State Police are still trying to figure out why Fernandez was going the wrong way.

The fatal crash also caused another collision when a semi-truck had stopped to let a medical helicopter land, a second semi didn't stop in time and rear ended it, officials said.

The trailer on one of them was torn open and the boxes inside scattered on the roadway.

One person had minor injuries from the second crash.