Obituary: Haylie Winiewicz & her father

Haylie Winiewicz, a student at Grayslake North High School, and her father died on Aug 29 in a car accident near their family home in Lindenhurst, Ill. Students at the school are paying tribute to her online and at next weekend’s home football game. Lots of purple is expected.


Haylie Winiewicz, a student at Grayslake North High School, died in a car crash on Aug 29. (Haylie’s Facebook page)

Grayslake High School District 127, which includes Grayslake North and Grayslake Central high schools, has made grief counselors available to students who may have some unresolved feelings to discuss. “It’s just shocking,” the Lake County News-Sun quoted Associate Superintendent Renee Zoladz as saying. “It’s a tragedy, and we have all kinds of resources available for students.”

Haylie and her father, Christopher Winiewicz, 50, were southbound on US Route 45, in a Kia driven by Christopher’s other daughter. As they made a left-hand turn onto Grand Avenue (Illinois Route 132), a Nissan heading north through the intersection struck their car, causing them to crash into a pole, according to news reports citing Cmdr Joe Moravec of the Lindenhurst Police Department. Haylie’s sister, a 16-year-old teammate on the school’s varsity cheerleading team, was treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Haylie’s friends at Twisters Elite Cheer & Dance updated their status on Facebook:

We mourn the loss of such a wonderful girl and her father. Haylie was one of our most determined and dedicated athletes we’ve ever had on Twisters Elite. Her personality always shined bright, and her passion for the sport, our team, and extended family burned strong. Haylie was featured on the “Twisters Elite Wants You” banner that has been seen by thousands and thousands at Lake County parades for years now. Her smile was contagious and her attitude full of gratitude.

We remember years ago when she was youth-aged sharing her ideas, hopes, and dreams of becoming a world-class athlete some day, to attend the World Championships at Disney World in Orlando.

We are honored to have helped her achieve that goal with Jackie Lindom and Lissa Erickson as her coaches and teammates, but it was her desire and passion to attain that goal which took her there. She competed at Worlds not only once, but three times as a Twister. She was a world-class athlete. She was truly an athlete everyone could look up to as an inspiration. Her legacy will live on; we will carry it forward and bring the dream to many more athletes with Haylie’s spirit leading the charge.

Visitation will be from 2 to 9 PM Wednesday at Warren Funeral Home in Gurnee. A funeral mass will be at 10 AM Thursday at St Patrick Church in Wadsworth.

Students will also honor Haylie at Friday night’s home football game against Hampshire. Members of both the football team and marching band have flooded Twitter, using #playforhaylie, with memorials and condolences. Cheerleading teams, especially from other high schools in the Chicago area, have also posted love on the Twitterverse, as have people, like me, who didn’t know Haylie at all. I join with them here in expressing sympathy for their loss and can just see the football field Friday, filled with people wearing purple.

We in education spend so much time worrying about testing, curricula, and such, that we forget most of the time that life for high school students happens in between all of that. All those things we thought mattered the most matter the least, and something as routine as driving, which we barely think about, can matter most of all. Our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Haylie and Christopher.

About the Author

Paul Katula

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.