Chicago Ridge resident Jonathan “Jon” Grabinski, 17, and his friend, Salvatore Melant, 18, of Chicago, were killed early Saturday morning when the SUV went off the road and struck a tree on Archer Avenue near 94th Street, in unincorporated Willow Springs.
According to information provided by the Cook County sheriff’s and medical examiner’s offices, the accident occurred just after 3:30 a.m., when their Ford Explorer lost control and crashed into a tree as they traveled east on Archer Avenue. Both were pronounced dead at the scene about 4:15 a.m.
In a written statement, District 218 Superintendent Ty Harting said, “We are shocked and saddened by this tragic accident and by the passing of Jonathan Grabinski. We will keep Jonathan and his family in our thoughts and prayers and we will offer any support we can to his family, his friends, and to the entire Richards High School community. Whenever we lose a student we lose a part of ourselves as well. Our hearts go out to the Grabinski family during this very difficult time.”
Melant, who went by “Sam,” lived in Chicago’s Scottsdale neighborhood, and was a 2015 graduate of St. Laurence High School in Burbank. He was taking college courses, according to reports. Both teens aspired to become police officers, friends said.
The exact cause of the accident was still under investigation, but officials said the road conditions were icy.
Although there was no school on Monday because of Casimir Pulaski Day, a crisis team was availableat Richards High School, 10601 S. Central Ave., in Oak Lawn.
Harting said that more than 40 people came to the school to speak to the counselors and social workers who were there.
Services for Grabinski were held yesterday, Wednesday, at Curley Funeral Home, 6116 W. 111th St., in Chicago Ridge.
Survivors include his parents, Roger and Karrie Grabinski; brothers, Joshua and Jeffrey; and grandfather, John Grabinski.
Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for expenses. On the website, friends said Grabinski’s nickname was “Smiley,” because his smile “lit up any room he walked into and his laughter was infectious.”
The site may be viewed at https://www.gofundme.com/4ecs9c.