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A makeshift memorial has been created next to the tree in Hickory Hills where four teenagers were killed in a crash Saturday afternoon. (Staff photo)

A makeshift memorial has been created next to the tree in Hickory Hills where four teenagers were killed in a crash Saturday afternoon. (Staff photo)

4 teens killed in Hickory Hills crash were Argo students

Driver charged with reckless homicide

By Bob Bong and Carol McGowan

Four teenagers from Justice were killed Saturday in what Hickory Hills Police believe was an attempt to go airborne over the crest of a hill at 86th Avenue near 89th Street.

Police said six teenagers, all younger than 18, were traveling in a 2008 Mercedes SUV when they crashed into a tree about 2:24 p.m. Saturday. Police said a witness saw the SUV go airborne over the hill.

All of the teens were students at Argo High School in Summit.

Two of the teens were pronounced dead at the scene and two others succumbed to their injuries at a local hospital.

According to family members and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, the deceased teens were brothers Jemerrio Rieves, 15, and Omarion Rieves, 17, Destiny Giera, 16, and Nate Phillips, 17.

The Rieves brothers had played football for Argo and basketball at Willow Springs School. Omarion was going to be a senior when classes resume next month.

Omarion’s mother told ABC-Channel 7 news that he had just had his senior pictures taken.

Police said the driver and front-seat passenger were treated and released from a local hospital. Police said the 17-year-old driver was taken into custody after his release from the hospital. Police said he was charged as a juvenile with reckless homicide and traffic violations. He was not named because he’s a minor.

Hickory Hills Police and the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team are still investigating the crash in the 8500 block of 89th Street, which involved only the SUV.

Police said their preliminary investigation found the SUV was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed in an attempt to fly over the crest of the hill. After leaving the ground, the SUV struck a large tree on the north side of 89th Street and split in half.

The six teens were all friends from accounts of people who knew them.

“They were great kids,” Jocelyn Gonzales, a neighbor, told WGN-Channel 9 news.

Friends and family gathered at the accident site Sunday to release balloons in their honor. Makeshift memorials were forming around the tree and “I Love You” messages had been spray-painted in the street alongside the tree.

“We, at Willow Springs School, are completely heartbroken by the loss of life in the horrible and tragic car accident that happened over the weekend,” said Willow Springs School District 108 Supt. Frank Patrick. “We are mourning the loss of young lives that held so much promise. Lives that we knew, some very well, some by ‘extended family,’ but all had dreams that we shared of wonderful futures ahead of them. We, at school, struggle to come to terms with the tragedy, and our heartfelt sympathies go out to their families. We will remember their easy smiles, friendliness and big hearts.”

Patrick said four of the teens involved in the crash had a connection to Willow Springs School.

Paul Sweeney, former basketball coach at Willow Springs School, said the Rieves brothers were “both fine young men. A pleasure to coach. Would do anything for you on and off the court. It is heartbreaking.”

Neighbors in the vicinity of the crash say it’s not uncommon for cars to speed in the area and to disregard stop signs.

One neighbor, Elizabeth Micheletti, said the accident site was disturbing.

“When I got there, police were still investigating the scene. There were bits and pieces of the car scattered along the ground. I’ve never seen a car split in half like that, it was very startling.

“Some of the initial responders and other neighbors and I were talking about what we assume happened. The car must have been speeding and went through the stop sign at the top of the hill, they flew through and lost control hitting the tree. It looked like the car hit at the front driver’s side of the car and sling shot sending the car flying and ultimately splitting it in half. The passengers in the backseat must not have been wearing seat belts because the neighbors who responded said they were on the ground while others helped with two front passengers get out of the vehicle.

“Yes, there is definitely a speeding problem in the area. Those who are speeding are not obeying traffic signals like the stop signs. I’ve seen most of the police presence on 91st Street, but rarely on 89th, so I assume that is why speeders choose that road.”

Funeral arrangements for the teens had not been announced as of press time.

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