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‘It should not be like this’: Lockport crash victim mourned

A memorial for Jackie Rudd can be seen southeast corner Cedar Road 167th Street Monday Dec. 17 2012 Homer Glen.

A memorial for Jackie Rudd can be seen at the southeast corner of Cedar Road and 167th Street on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, in Homer Glen. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 19, 2013 6:14AM



Like many of his Lockport Township High School classmates, junior Nick Kaleel wore pink Monday.

Pink ribbons also adorned trees in front of the school’s East Campus building.

The gestures were in memory of a “loving,” “smiling” classmate — Jackie Rudd, a junior from Homer Glen, who was killed Saturday in a car accident only a couple of miles from school. She was the second Lockport student in the past three months to die in a car accident.

“It should not be like this,” Kaleel, wearing a pink hooded sweatshirt, said as he recalled memories of his childhood friend.

“She was a very loving, caring girl,” he said. “She was the nicest girl I ever met.”

The mood was “very somber and sedate” at the school as students and staff grieved, Lockport Township High School District 205 spokeswoman Kim Brehm said.

Rudd was a member of the varsity poms squad and active in the National Honor Society.

The 16-year-old was pronounced dead in the Silver Cross Hospital emergency room at 4:55 p.m. Saturday after the car she was driving collided with a Ford F-250 pickup truck at Division Street and Cedar Road in Lockport, according to the Will County coroner’s office.

Rudd was driving a 1998 BMW east on 167th Street at about 4:15 p.m. when she collided with the truck, driven by a 49-year-old Mokena man who was southbound on Cedar Road, Lockport police said. The accident remains under investigation.

Her death comes three months after that of Jay Vana, 16, who was killed in a car accident at Lauffer and Haas roads in Homer Glen. Both were members of Lockport’s junior class.

The deaths of two classmates have hit home with some students.

“Personally, I’m more aware when I’m driving,” said Nicole Zembol, who sat next to Rudd in math class.

While it was hard to see Rudd’s empty desk in class Monday, the teacher announced that Rudd had earned an 87 on a math quiz she took the day before she died, Zembol said.

“Everyone was crying,” she said.

“She was a really good student, just an all-around good person. This is just horrible,” said Taylor Stevens, a senior from Homer Glen.

Senior Tori Cifonie, of Lockport, recalled that Rudd had made the varsity poms team as a freshman.

“She was always smiling,” she said.

“She loved to dance,” Kaleel said.

Students were planning a vigil Monday night at the memorial tree in the Farrell Road parking lot of the school.

Kaleel said others planned to bring Vana’s bright green car to the vigil.

“This is extremely sad. People are really stunned,” Brehm said. “The school is very much aware that this will be harder for some students. It may bring back the experience of losing their friend a few months ago.”

Counselors and social workers were available for anyone who needed support, she said.

Rudd was a “beautiful young lady and a great student,” Brehm said. “She will be missed by many friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

Julie Decaire, the junior-varsity poms coach at Lockport for the past two years, knows the Rudd family, including Jackie’s younger sister Jessie, a member of the JV poms team.

“Jackie was a beautiful, motivated, caring young woman. She always had the biggest smile that would light up any room,” Decaire said in an email.

“The younger girls on the team looked to Jackie as a role model because of her positive attitude and kind heart. She truly was beautiful inside and out, and anyone who has met her would say the same,” she said.

Rudd is survived by her parents, William and Michelle Rudd, her sister Jessie and a brother, Billy.

Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Kurtz Memorial Chapel, which is operated by Vana’s family, at 102 E. Francis Road, New Lenox. Funeral services will be at 9 a.m. Thursday at Parkview Christian Church, 11100 Orland Parkway, Orland Park.



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