Fatal 5 Oswego Illinois
by Kim Petry
fatal 5 R.I.P.
ON 02-11-07 FIVE TEENS WERE KILLED IN A ONE CAR CRASH. CAUSED BY A 23 YR OLD DRUNK DRIVER. MY NIECE WAS KILLED INSTANTLY. THE CRASH CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER. FOUR TEENS WERE KILLED INSTANTLY, THE OTHER DIED 2 WEEKS LATER. HERE IS THE STORY....
CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli, Alita Guillen and Joanie Lum and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
OSWEGO, Ill. (CBS) ―
Friends and family of four teens killed in a crash in Oswego placed candles, flowers and stuffed animals for the victims at the accident scene.
The 23-year-old woman who was behind the wheel of a car involved in a wreck that killed four teenagers has been charged with reckless homicide and driving under the influence.
Grief counselors were on hand Monday morning at Oswego High School, where the four victims and four other teens injured in the crash were students.
Authorities said that S***** V******, of Montgomery, was charged with four counts each of reckless homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol causing great bodily harm, and driving under the influence causing death.
Friends say the eight teens had packed into the 2001 Infiniti sedan that V****** was driving when the car crashed into a utility pole in Oswego at about 2:20 a.m. Sunday.
Police say V****** offered the eight teens from Oswego High a ride home from a party. But they wouldn't say who supplied the alcohol.
Katherine Merkel, 14; Tiffany Urso, 16; Jessica Nutoni, 15; and Matthew Frank, 17, were pronounced dead at the scene, Oswego Police detective Robert Sherwood said. V****** and the injured teenagers, ranging in age from 14 to 16, were taken to area hospitals.
"We are continuing the investigation into where the alcohol came from and who provided it to the children," said Oswego Police Chief Dwight Baird.
That investigation may be centered on a house in Oswego Township where neighbors say the party was held and where police removed evidence Sunday. The owners of that home recently moved out of the state and are renting the property.
"There was beer, Bud Light and liquor bottles and I also saw them removing evidence in bags which they carried out and put in police cars," said neighbor Nicole Tope.
Police would not say what V******"* blood alcohol level was at the time of the crash.
"When you see this type of tragedy hit home and you see the grieving students and the grieving family members at a makeshift memorial hours after a tragedy like this happens I think you hit home to not drink and drive, " said Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis.
The teenagers were still in the hospital as of Monday evening, along with Vasquez who was in serious condition Monday night. V****** will appear for a bond hearing in Kendall County Court when she is released from the hospital.
Friends of the victims huddled around crosses that mark the scene of the crash on Sunday. They sobbed and held on to each other, talking about how close they all were.
"We were family, we were always together," said friend Savannah Valdez. Urso's neighbor heard the family crying Sunday morning.
"We had classes together, she was a really nice girl," said Urso's neighbor Sara Page. "It shocked me when I heard about it this morning."
Jessica Nutoni's family was in shock.
"She was a loving girl, strong willed," said stepmother Tammy Nutoni. "She loved her family, wanted to go in the Army when she got out of school."
"I just feel bad," said friend Tameka Lee. "I know they're in a better place, but it's hard on everybody."
"I don't think we can warn people enough to wear seatbelts and not to drink and drive," said Sherwood.
"It was a mess of a scene," said Sherwood. "We'll have to talk to the survivors and see what happened."
V*****"* uncle said she must have suffered a lapse in judgment.
Damage to the utility pole caused a power outage that lasted nearly two hours and affected about 1,500 people, said Commonwealth Edison spokeswoman Judy Rader. A section of Route 31 was temporarily closed Sunday as police investigated.
While police focus on the investigation, school leaders are focusing on the mental health of the district's students.
"This accident rips at the very fiber of our school and our families," said district superintendent David Behlow.
To help with the pain, counselors will be at all Oswego schools this week as the district begins to heal in the wake of the worst accident in the history of Oswego High.