4 teens killed after car plunged into Will County creek - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

4 teens killed after car plunged into Will County creek

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Cheyenne Fender, 17; Micalah Sembach, 15; Matthew Bailey, 14; Cody Carter, 15. Cheyenne Fender, 17; Micalah Sembach, 15; Matthew Bailey, 14; Cody Carter, 15.
Courtesy: Lisa Chavarria Courtesy: Lisa Chavarria
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Four Wilmington High School students died after their car plunged into the icy water of Forked Creek in Will County Monday night. 

Emergency crews pulled two boys and two girls--14-year-old Matthew Bailey, 15-year-old Cody Carter, 17-year-old Cheyenne Fender and 15-year-old Micalah Sembach--from a black 2001 Mitsubishi Tuesday morning. 

The coroner says the students were in a car registered to Fender, but authorities are still investigating who was driving.

Micalah Sembach's aunt called FOX 32 News to report her niece missing before she knew she was a victim in the crash.

Will County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas said the teens had not been accounted for since Monday evening. They were together Monday afternoon, and were not responding to calls or text messages. Authorities said their lack of response was uncharacteristic of these kids.

When Micalah Sembach wasn't home at 5 p.m. Monday, her parents sent her a text message that said, "If you don't call me back in five minutes, I'm calling the police," according to Rita Johns of Plainfield, Sembach's godmother.

They didn't hear from her, and they called the police.

Deputy Kaupas says the driver likely lost control after hitting a patch of water or ice. The car tore through a guard rail on Ballou Road about a quarter-mile west of Warner Bridge Road, and plunged into the water.

"There is water on the roadway that has receded even since last night that could've been a factor," Kaupas noted.

Around 7:20 a.m. a passerby noticed the guardrail had been crashed through and called 911. A school bus driver also saw a wheel in the creek. A student saw the same tire, called their mom and the police were called as well.

Kaupas said fire department divers were called to the scene, but all of the occupants in the car were deceased.

Crews placed white sheets over the vehicle as the teenagers were pulled out of the car, placed on stretchers and covered. By 10 a.m. the vehicle was removed and police were waiting for Deputy Will County coroners office.

The public saw friends of the Wilmington teens react to news of their deaths in real time Tuesday, as they took to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to mourn and remember their young friends.

Grief counselors were provided to Wilmington school district students Tuesday, and other schools even lended their personnel to make sure the teens' friends and classmates were able to deal with their deaths at school. The principal had everyone pause for a moment of silence.

Superintendent Jay Plese said it's likely every one of the 440 students attending Wilmington High School knew the teens.

"A child not responding (to texts and calls), it would be out of character. It would send chills through any parent," Plese said.

"Everyone was very sad," Patrick Hathaway, friend to Matt Bailey said. "People we leaving, girls were breaking out crying, and it's pretty bad."

"Everybody thought it was a nightmare and we all wanted someone to come up to us and like, 'oh it was all a joke, and we were just getting out of it and it never really happened,'" student Stephen Widner said.

Wilmington Mayor Marty Orr's voice wavered as he talked about the teens, and said he knew some of them personally. In a small town like Wilmington, he said, everyone probably knew them.

"These kids have touched everybody's life in some way," Orr said. "We'll cope. That's the beauty of Wilmington. We'll lean on each other, we'll get through this."

"I just pray for all the families and the people touched by this," parent Deborah Meyer said. "And there's four angels now in heaven that we just lost."

On Tuesday night, more than 100 people filled the First Methodist Church to pray, remember dear friends, and search for some comfort on a day when it seemed to escape them.

The Sun-Times Media Wire and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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