Oak Lawn-Hometown student dies after being hit by pickup
By BOB RAKOW Correspondent May 25, 2012 5:46PM
Kaylah Lentine, of Hometown, is remembered as a teacher's "delight" who was well-liked by everyone at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School. The 14-year-old died one day after being hit by a pickup truck in an accident in Oak Lawn. | Supplied photo
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:49AM
As Kaylah Lentine fought for her life Friday one day after being hit by a pickup truck on her way to school, students at Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School worked during the school day to show the eighth-grader how much they were thinking about her.
Everybody signed her yearbook and made posters, Principal Paul Enderle said. Some students wore yellow shirts and blue jeans to school, knowing she would have liked that style.
“We really thought there was a chance,” Enderle said.
But Kaylah, 14, of the 4500 block of West 88th Street in Hometown, was pronounced dead at 3:26 p.m. Friday at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the Cook County medical examiner’s office said. She had been taken to the hospital in critical condition Thursday after being struck by a pickup truck about 8 a.m. while crossing Southwest Highway west of Cicero Avenue in Oak Lawn, officials said.
Late Friday night, seventh-grade girls from the school were tying yellow ribbons to a lightpole on one of the corners at the intersection. Kaylah’s mother, Krista Wilkinson, came by to say the family was grateful for all the kind gestures, visitors to the home and postings on a Facebook tribute page.
“We appreciate all the kind words,” Wilkinson said.
Moments later, more than 100 classmates, friends and family members held a candlelight vigil at Kaylah’s home, circling a makeshift memorial of teddy bears and flowers, and sharing stories about Kaylah as they listened to songs by her favorite band, Journey.
Veronica Johnson, an eighth-grade classmate and friend of Kaylah, said she thought Kaylah on Thursday morning had missed the bus to the school, 5345 W. 99th St. in Oak Lawn. Kaylah was supposed to be presented with a leadership award during a school assembly in the morning, and when her name was called out, everybody waited, wondering where she was, attendees said.
On Friday, after school officials learned Kaylah had died, they canceled the eighth-grade graduation dance.
“It’s not a celebratory time,” Enderle said outside the school, where staff had to inform students and parents who had not gotten a robocall to notify them of the cancellation. “It’s been a tough day.”
Eighth-grader Gissel Madero, all dressed up for the dance, said she was “depressed” upon hearing of Kaylah’s death.
“We were friends. I always talked to her at gym,” Madero said.
Some parents thought the dance should have gone on as scheduled, suggesting it might have been therapeutic.
“She would have wanted this,” said Leah McCaleb, of Hometown. “They could have all been together for each other. They didn’t have to dance.”
Enderle said Kaylah was “well-liked by everyone,” and Assistant Principal Katy Spreitzer described her as “a really good artist and an awesome writer.”
A chalk drawing Kaylah created in front of the school depicted a girl with blonde hair.
Kaylah also was involved in media production and Students Against Destructive Decisions at school.
“She was a delight to have in class,” media production teacher Noreen Williams said.
Counselors were available at the school Friday, Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 spokesman Ben Grey said, and will be available when school resumes Tuesday, according to a statement on the district’s website.
A class trip to Six Flags Great America on Tuesday and graduation ceremony on Wednesday are to take place as scheduled, officials said.
Services were pending.