Thursday, February 10, 2011

Swift Road

I remember when it happened, almost exactly a year ago today. It made the papers. They were football players from Glenbard West. Two of them. Terrible car wreck, along Swift Rd. out in unincorporated DuPage County around 8PM.

Glenbard West is a big public school in Glen Ellyn that draws students from that town, as well as from neighboring Lombard. (Glen-bard.) It's very close to where the accident occurred.

That's a road I've driven hundreds of times, not more than 5 miles from where I lived in Wheaton, during my own high school years. Two lane country road back in the day, now it's a busy highway due to the population boom in Chicago's western suburbs.

They apparently lost control, drove off of Swift Road, and into a utility pole. At the time, cops said there was no sign that drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.

Hundreds of students stood vigil at Glenbard West's Duchon Field, praying for their fellow Hilltoppers.

One of them, the driver, Pierre Washington-Steel, a star running back, was critically injured and died a week later from his injuries. He was 17.

The other, Demarco Whitley, a backup to Washington-Steel, spent two months in the hospital before being released.

After Washington-Steel's death, counselors were brought in, to help the Glenbard West students deal with the shock. The grief. The students wore bracelets to honor Washington-Steel.

"Kids really liked him," said Glenbard West principal Jane Thorsen. "He had a real concern for other students."

This past season the Hilltoppers played a game in his honor. It was the 7th game, a nod to Washington-Steel's jersey #7. They won the game, and afterward the Glenbard West coach held a portrait of Washington-Steel above his head.

At the end of the 2010 school year, a full page of the yearbook paid tribute to Pierre Washington-Steel.

"Forever in Our Hearts" read the caption under a picture of him in his Glenbard West uniform.

Gone, but not forgotten.

And, Demarco Whitley, while not gone, is also remembered.

Whitley, now 18, was arrested on his way to school this week, and charged with raping a 15 year old girl up in north suburban Rolling Meadows.

Gang raping actually.

They raped her in a church parking lot. DNA evidence was recovered from a condom found at the scene, as well as from a pair of nylons the girl was wearing at the time. The condom was used by Whitley. His accomplice, allegedly, forced the girl to perform oral sex on him.

According to the Rolling Meadows cops, Whitley has made a statement that officially implicates him in the crime.

The attack took place almost exactly a year ago today.

And, approximately one hour after the attack, Whitley was riding shotgun when the driver, his gang rape accomplice, the late Pierre Washington-Steel, lost control of the car and drove into that utility pole on Swift Rd.


Cindy said...

Makes me think of this bumper sticker I saw recently.

"Karma is a b*tch"

I wonder if we put Whitley's name into a search engine in four years if it will come out in an NFL roster or not.

Michael said...

I think Whitley's name will be attached to a long number in 4 years Cindy, on a prison jump suit.