Aaron Dunigan, the captain of the football team at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, Ill., was killed in a car crash just days before he was expected to graduate, and his mom accepted his diploma at the ceremony last month, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“He knows his mom never walked the stage,” the paper quoted his mom, Katherine Jackson, as saying. “I’m going to be his legs and he’s going to be my wings, and we’re going to go up there and get our diploma.”
Aaron was killed shortly after attending the school’s prom. The car he was riding in crossed over the center line on State Street near Burnham Avenue and struck a Dodge pickup truck. The driver of the truck, Juan Rivera, a Metra worker from Calumet City who was on his way to work, was also killed in the crash. A friend of Aaron’s was badly injured in the crash but attended the graduation ceremony in a wheelchair.
The driver of the car in which Aaron was a passenger, David Peden, 18, of Calumet City, has been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, causing death, and reckless homicide with a motor vehicle.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Aaron’s friends and family, as well as to those of Mr Rivera, an innocent bystander in this traffic accident. We urge young people to refrain from marijuana use and to avoid driving motor vehicles at all times when under the influence of harmful chemicals introduced into their bodies.
Even though we must carry on, we remember those who have lost their lives to horrible and illegal activities of all kinds. “While our hearts are heavy and while we are experiencing death and anguish, it’s still a time to celebrate because when tomorrow comes, you have to live,” the Tribune quoted district Superintendent Creg Williams as saying.