School and sporting communities mourn Rolling Meadows family members and friend killed in crash


A grieving community began mourning and raising money on Monday for five members of a Rolling Meadows family who were killed along with another child in their van and the driver of an oncoming car traveling in the wrong direction on I-90 in McHenry County early Sunday.

Meanwhile, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 announced counseling services to help the community deal with the tragic loss of mother and five students.

Soldiers responded at 2:11 a.m. Sunday to the scene near Hampshire, where a 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck and a 2010 Acura TSX were engulfed in flames.

Six passengers in the van were killed: Lauren Dobosz, 31, of Rolling Meadows, her four children – Emma, ​​13, Lucas, 7, Nicholas, 6, and 5-year-old Ella – and another girl, 13 years old who was a friend of the family.

Acura driver Jennifer Fernandez, 22, of Carpentersville, also died.

The driver of the van, Thomas Dobosz, 32, of Rolling Meadows, was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with serious injuries.

State police say “for unknown reasons” the Acura was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-90 and struck the pickup truck head-on.

Lauren and Tom Dobosz were active with the Oriole Park Falcons, a youth football and pep program on the northwest side of Chicago.

Ryan Cooper, Falcons cheering director, said: “I coached with Lauren for a few years, and after I took over the program as cheering director, she was my right hand.”


She added that Lauren was part of the backbone of the program, helping with coaching and giving gifts for parents and coaches, as well as being a soccer mum.

“She always made sure our boys had everything they needed for their game,” Cooper said. “Lauren was a people person. She thought of everyone before herself. She made sure everyone was taken care of.”

Cooper said Tom was “the best dad we’ve ever had”, adding that he took over one of the concession stands to make sure the kids had cold water and hot food.

Ryan said the couple “were always active. They were always willing to do whatever they had to do for the program, for the kids.”

She said Tom was a jack of all trades, “that’s what he does best”.

Friends said their eldest daughter’s family and friend were vacationing in Minnesota on Sunday.

Balloons were released into the sky over Oriole Park on Monday night, many stuck to trees and one, heart-shaped, hovering above the large group who heard the many speakers pay their respects.

“I promised myself not to cry tonight. It’s a celebration of life,” said Luis Hernandez, one of the Falcons coaches.

“In the short time these kids were alive, they had a huge impact on all of us here. I coached Lucas last year, and let me tell you, one season had a huge impact on my life. And I trained Nicky for two days. This little boy was like, ‘When I get back from Minnesota, Coach, I can’t wait to get back to training.’ These words will forever be etched in my memory and we will always keep their names alive.”

Other speakers included Ashley Siek, who was a cheerleader at Ridgewood High School with Lauren, and Lauren’s younger brother,

A GoFundMe accountset up to raise funds for funeral expenses, contained a message from the Oriole Park Falcons, saying: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved cheer coach Lauren Dobosz, to the alongside her beautiful children Emma, ​​Lucas, Nicholas and Ella and her gracious friend Kat.”

Mourners at the memorial service on Monday night further identified Kat as Katriona Koziara, Emma’s friend from Rolling Meadows.

Natalia Lenkiewicz of Rolling Meadows said Kat moved to the United States from Scotland when she was 8 years old and was a talented breakdancer.

“She was one of a kind,” Lenkiewicz said.

As of Monday night, the GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $47,000 of its $50,000 goal.

The Rolling Meadows Police Department is also accepting online donations for local crash victims. His fundraiser, called RMPD Hope Fund, had received around $8,000 of a goal of $100,000 on Monday night and is located at

District 15 Superintendent Laurie Heinz addressed the school community Sunday and Monday with statements pledging support from district resources in the grieving process.

“We are simply heartbroken, and both shocked and grieving over the tragic loss of five students and one of our parents,” Heinz wrote. “Our efforts are currently focused on providing support to our entire community, with a particular focus on Willow Bend Elementary, Central Road Elementary and Carl Sandburg Junior High where the students attended school.”

Heinz added that support is also offered to teachers and staff who know the students well.

“In-person, virtual, or walk-in support for students, their families, and staff is being provided by trained District 15 mental health professionals for the remainder of this week,” Heinz continued. “In addition, caregiver support training will be available and organized on Tuesday, August 2, for both staff and parents. This training will provide parents and staff with information on what reactions to know and how to support the children and themselves during this difficult time.”

Comfort dogs will also be available at the Tuesday meeting for additional support.

“It goes without saying that this is a devastating loss for all of us here in District 15, especially as we look to the start of the new school year when their absences will be deeply felt,” Heinz wrote.

• Daily Herald writers Alice Fabbre and Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.


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