Lightning strike kills Mokena fisherman, ‘life of the party’
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com May 28, 2013 12:48PM
Jon Oliosi, of Mokena, displays the muskie he caught moments before being killed by a lightning strike. | Supplied photo
Updated: June 30, 2013 6:30AM
Jon Oliosi had three loves: his 2-year-old daughter Olivia, the Blackhawks and fishing.
He had more friends than one could count and was the life of the party, according to his mother, and the beard he was growing to show support for the Blackhawks was so famous, it had its own Facebook page — and doubled as a hiding spot for an Easter egg hunt.
The 29-year-old Mokena man was killed Sunday afternoon when he was struck by lightning during a fishing trip downstate, authorities said. Oliosi and friends had just finished fishing near the Lake Shelbyville dam on the Kaskaskia River in Central Illinois when he was struck.
Oliosi is to be buried Thursday in his Blackhawks jersey, his mother, Laura Oliosi, said.
“This is such a nightmare,” she said of the freak accident that claimed the life of the oldest of her three sons.
According to the Shelby County Coroner Brian Green, Oliosi died at Shelby Memorial Hospital in Shelbyville, 35 miles south of Decatur. No one else was injured.
Laura Oliosi said she had talked to her son earlier that day, while he and his friends were sitting in his family’s camper, waiting for the weather to clear. The camper was kept at the lake for these frequent fishing trips.
When the rain stopped, Jon and his friends returned to the lake, and he caught a large muskie, of which his friend took a photo. But the storms appeared to be moving in again, and Jon and his friends packed up to leave, Laura Oliosi said.
“He knows not to be near water when there’s lightning,” Laura Oliosi said.
But as they were walking down the steps from the dam, “Lightning came out of nowhere and hit him,” Laura Oliosi said.
Jon’s friend, who was walking with him, was knocked over but was unhurt, she said. Efforts to resuscitate Jon were in vain.
“He was the life of the party. He was that kind of guy,” Laura Oliosi said. “He lit up a room. He had so many friends you couldn’t count them.”
Oliosi was a 2002 graduate of Lincoln-Way High School.
Besides fishing, Jon and his friends also grew beards to show support for the Blackhawks during the playoffs. His beard was not to be shaved until the team won or lost.
The Hawks, who are among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, play Detroit on Wednesday night in a game that will either send them on to the next playoff round or end their season. Jon’s friends were hoping to get the Hawks to dedicate a game in his honor.
As for his beard, Jon’s aunt, Samantha Burgess, said that during a family Easter egg hunt, Jon hid one of the golden eggs there.
“All the kids tackled him trying to get it,” she said.
His death, she said, “is unbelievable.”
To help defray the funeral expenses, an account has been set up in his mother’s name — Laura Oliosi — at Great Lakes Bank, 9697 W. 191st St., Mokena. Any leftover funds would go to his daughter Olivia.
“He was an excellent dad,” she said.
Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Vandenberg Funeral Home, 19604 S. Wolf Road, Mokena. A funeral service is to be held at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, with a Mass slated for 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 19515 S. 115th Ave., Mokena. Interment is at Good Shepherd Cemetery, Orland Park.
Besides his daughter, Jon is survived by his parents, Laura and Reno, two brothers, Daniel and Christopher, and grandparents Eugene and Gloria Burgess.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made in Jonathan’s name to a charity of the donor’s choice.