CHICAGO (CBS) — A crowd was struck with unimaginable grief at a memorial and balloon release on the city’s Far Northwest Side Monday evening.
Relatives and friends came together to remember five members of a single family killed in a horrific car crash over the weekend. The father of the family was still in the hospital fighting for his life Monday night.
From cheerleading and football, Oriole Park really was the families’ second home. On Monday night, those who know and love the family felt coming to the park was the only thing that felt right.
Lauren Dobosz was a devoted cheerleading coach at the park, at 5500 N. Olcott Ave., while her husband, Tom, helped out with football. Their four kids were active members of the falcon youth sports program.
“Lauren and Tom were never not busy,” said Lauren’s youngest brother.
Lauren’s brother spoke to a large group of family and friends who gathered for a balloon release and celebration of life.
“Once I stepped foot in this park, I saw every single one of you guys here, and I broke down even more,” he said.
“They had the greatest kids – sweetest kids ever,” added family friend Cindy Cisneros. “It’s unimaginable what’s happened to them.”
Lauren and all of her children – 13-year-old Emma, 8-year-old Lucas, 7-year-old Nicky, and 5-year-old Ella – along with a friend identified as 13-year-old Katriona Koziara, known at Kat – died in a fiery crash Sunday night on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway in rural McHenry County.
The van they were in was hit head on by a driver going the wrong way. That driver – 22-year-old Jennifer Fernandez of Carpentersville – also died.
Thomas is the sole survivor.
“Crushed. Abandoned. Alone,” said friend Neylisa Zenino.
“I wish she was still here,” said friend Gianna Quinones.
Friends of Kat’s also attended the memorial Monday. They remembered her as a great breakdancer and even better friend.
“She deserved so much more,” said Natalia Lenkiewicz, “and she was just too young.”
Tom Dobosz was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with severe injuries. He remained there Monday night.
We are told the family and Kat were on their way back from a vacation in Minnesota at the time of the crash.
The City of Rolling Meadows Hope Fund is also accepting donations for the victims’ families in this GoFundMe.