Students returned to classes Friday for the first time after a fire damaged the Buffalo Grove High School and four of the school’s students died just hours later in an unrelated crash.
The Buffalo Grove Fire Department responded around 7:45 p.m. Tuesday to Buffalo Grove High School, 1100 West Dundee Road in Buffalo Grove, for a report of a fire alarm that had been activated.
Firefighters arrived and found smoke coming from a room, village officials said.
The alarm was coming from the English wing and firefighters located a small fire.
The incident was upgraded and multiple fire departments were called to the scene.
The fire was quickly extinguished and no injuries were reported, village officials said.
The Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District, Wheeling Fire Department, Arlington Heights Fire Department, Des Plaines Fire Department and Prospect Heights Fire Protection District responded to the scene.
Township High School District 214 officials were on the scene and closed the school Wednesday and Thursday due to the incident.
A restoration company was called to perform clean up.
Just hours later, four Buffalo Grove High School students, ages 16 to 18, died in a major crash around 10:19 p.m. at Dundee Road and Schoenbeck Road in Wheeling.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified three of the four as Jesus Rodriguez, 16, of Wheeling; Richard De-Ita, 18, of Wheeling; and Kevin R. Hernandez-Teran, 17, of Wheeling.
The Lake County Coroner’s Office identified the fourth victim as Ricky Barcenas, 17, of Arlington Heights.
The Wheeling Police Department and Wheeling Fire Department responded to the crash, which involved three vehicles and left multiple occupants trapped in the vehicles.
Eight ambulances were called to the scene.
Firefighters extricated four victims and transported a total of seven victims to local hospitals, police said.
Rodriguez, De-Ita, Hernandez-Teran and Barcenas were occupants of the “primary vehicle,” police said.
Township High School District 214 confirmed Wednesday morning that the four teenagers were Buffalo Grove High School students. A fifth student was hospitalized.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these students during this time of tragedy. We also offer condolences to all Buffalo Grove students, families and staff members,” the school district said.
Speed and a disregarded traffic signal appear to be the primary factors involved in the crash, police said.
One of the vehicles involved struck an electrical pole and caused a power outage in the area.
The Northwest Suburban Major Case Assistance Team’s Serious Traffic Accident Reconstruction unit along with Wheeling police crash investigators were on the scene recovering evidence and investigating.
Wheeling social service workers have also been involved and are working with the families “as they begin to process this terrible event,” police said.
The school district said they have made counselors available to help the school community “deal with this tragic loss.”
Students returned to in-person class at Buffalo Grove High School on Friday.
Wheeling Police Chief James Dunne said he extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased.