A fundraiser was started for a family after the father was killed and his two stepsons were critically injured after a crash caused by an illegally passing car in Beach Park Friday evening.
Justin Moland, coach of the Waukegan Panthers youth baseball team, said in a GoFundMe fundraiser that one of his players, Giovanny Rodriguez, along with his brother Alejandro and their stepfather, Jose Hernandez, were involved in the crash.
Giovanny and Hernandez were a part of the team’s summer league championship season and the current fall season, Moland said.
Alejandro played baseball with the Waukegan Savages in his age division.
The crash occurred around 6:45 p.m. Friday on Green Bay Road north of Wadsworth Road in Beach Park.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Beach Park Fire Department responded and found a crash involving four vehicles, according to Lake County Sheriff Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.
The preliminary investigation shows a 2017 Jeep Patriot, driven by a 50-year-old woman from Zion, was traveling northbound on Green Bay Road.
The Jeep was illegally passing a tow truck towing a semi-tractor and the Jeep drove northbound in the southbound lanes of Green Bay Road, Covelli said.
The Jeep then crashed head-on into a southbound 2014 Kia Soul, driven by Hernandez, 49, of Zion.
Hernandez was transported by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan where he was later pronounced dead.
Giovanny and Alejandro, who both live in Zion, were passengers in the Kia. Both of them were unrestrained and suffered critical injuries, Covelli said.
One of the boys was flown by a LifeNet medical helicopter to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
The other was transported by ambulance to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.
Moland said Giovanny is currently in critical condition with broken bones and a head injury. Alejandro suffered a severe concussion and other serious injuries.
The mother, Jackie, is heartbroken by the accident and the loss of her husband, Moland said.
“Jose (Hernandez) was a genuinely good person, always willing to lend a helping hand and have a good time,” Moland said.
“Both Giovanny and Alejandro are kind-hearted young men who light up a room with their smiles and attitude. The Waukegan Panthers team has been deeply affected by this tragedy,” he added.
The coach said the team will compete in the playoffs, which started on Saturday, without their starting catcher and first base coach.
Moland says the Waukegan youth baseball community and the city are coming together to support the family.
He hopes to raise money to support the family after the tragedy. A fundraiser has collected over $7,000 with a $20,000 goal as of Monday evening.
A second GoFundMe was started by Frances Baxley, who teamed up with colleagues at the Erie HealthReach Waukegan Health Center in Waukegan, to also raise money for their friend Jackie.
“Jose (Hernandez) was full of life and love. We’re giving to honor him and to show our love and support for Jackie and their children,” Baxley said.
The fundraiser has collected over $10,000 as of Monday evening to help the woman with medical and funeral expenses for her husband and sons.
The illegally passing Jeep also collided with a Ford Explorer that was traveling southbound directly behind Hernandez’s Kia.
The driver of the Ford, a 58-year-old woman from unincorporated Zion, and a passenger, a 24-year-old man from unincorporated Zion, were both transported by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East with minor injuries.
After the collision, the Jeep rotated and struck the tow truck it was illegally passing. The driver of the tow truck, a 35-year-old man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was uninjured.
The 50-year-old woman driving the Jeep was transported by ambulance to Advocate Condell Medical Center with minor injuries.
A passenger in the Jeep, a 60-year-old woman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, was transported by ambulance to Vista Medical Center East with minor injuries.
An autopsy on Hernandez is scheduled for Tuesday.
The crash remains under investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Technical Crash Investigations Unit.