VILLA PARK – A Willowbrook High School junior was killed Saturday evening in a hit-and-run crash along Interstate 88 near Joslin.
Emilio Perez, 17, of Villa Park was pronounced dead on the scene around 9 p.m. Saturday, said Brian Gustafson, Rock Island County coroner.
“An autopsy was completed, and preliminary results indicate Emilio died from a traumatic neck injury,” Gustafson said.
Perez was walking along the roadway between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday when he was struck by a passing vehicle, Illinois State Trooper Jason Wilson said. The driver fled the scene of the crash. Perez's vehicle was found along the highway, about a mile east of the crash area with an empty tank of gas, Wilson said.
The fatal crash happened in the westbound lane of I-88 near mile marker 6, according to a release from the Illinois State Police, who are searching for a full-sized truck or SUV missing the driver's side mirror and with damage to the driver's side headlight.
The color of the vehicle is unknown, Wilson said.
Willowbrook students held a prayer vigil for Perez on Monday evening at the school, and posted several images and condolance messages to social media with the hashtag #RIPEmilio. A large rock outside the high school was painted with the words "RIP Emilio."
Willowbrook High School has implemented support services for students, staff members and any other individual in need of assistance, according to a news release Tuesday afternoon from DuPage High School District 88.
"Perez was a true Willowbrook Warrior in every sense of the word and was involved throughout Willowbrook High School," principal Dan Krause said in the release. "We are deeply saddened by this loss, and Perez will always be a part of Willowbrook High School."
Anyone who may have been driving in the area of the crash and saw something is urged to call the Illinois State Police at 309-752-4915.
"Anything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, might make the world of difference," Wilson said.
Perez's wake will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Steuerle Funeral Home, 350 S. Ardmore Ave., in Villa Park. His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Alexander Church, 300 S. Cornell Ave., in Villa Park.