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Devastated Families Remember 4 Young People Killed In Hickory Hills Crash That Split Car In Half

HICKORY HILLS, Ill. (CBS) -- A memorial was set up by devastated family members and loved ones Sunday, a day after a crash left a car sheared in half and killed four people in Hickory Hills.

As CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported, a total of six people were in the car when it hit a tree and split in two on 89th Street at 86th Court around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Two of the victims were pronounced dead on the scene, and two more also later died from their injuries.

All the victims who died were teenagers from southwest suburban Justice: 17-year-old Omarion Rieves, 17-year-old Nathaniel Phillips, 16-year-old Destiny Giera, and 15-year-old Jemerrio Rieves.

Sunday was an emotional day and evening at the scene. There were balloon release and separate candlelight vigils for the victims – each another reminder of the sheer number of lives young lost.

Hickory Hills Crash Memorial
A memorial set up on Sunday, July 18, 2021, for the four victims killed in a crash in Hickory Hills the day before. (Credit: Marissa Parra/CBS 2)

Memorials were also set up with candles, plush toys, boxes of favorite breakfast cereal. And the crash has left behind deep scars.

It was around 2:30 p.m. Saturday when 17-year-old Nathan Phillips' father was having a hard time reaching him.

"I started calling him. I'm like, 'Maybe his phone is dead,'" said Kenneth Roberts.

He would later be the one to tell the rest of his family that his 17-year-old son would not be coming home.

"They miss him dearly right now – and when we broke the news last night, it was kind of devastating," Roberts said.

Roberts said Phillips appeared to be a passenger in the car. He shared a photo of their last trip together as father and son.

Kenneth Roberts, Nathan Phillips
(Credit: Kenneth Roberts)

Phillips was a senior in senior high school who had just gotten a new job, according to his father.

We are told everyone who died was in their teens and grew up in the same small neighborhood. Two other victims were brothers – Omarion and Jemerrio Rieves.

Omarion And Jemerrio Walker
Brothers Omarion (left) and Jemerrio Walker. (Supplied to CBS 2)

"It hurts, like real bad," said Raven Hazelett.

"I knew Jemerrio and Omarion – they were one of my closest friends," said Rachel Grau. "They were always full of joy, and they were always full of laughter; like they were fun to hang around with. Everyone knew them."

"Really young, like 16 or 17 years old," said Janet Ramos.

Young friends of the fourth victim, 16-year-old Destiny Giera, tried to wrap their head around her loss.

"It's honestly really sad, because she could have done so much more," said Yeneliz Delmoral. "She was so smart and capable of so much more, but I don't know."

It was a loss of potential and a growing grief for the parents who loved the young people unconditionally.

"Like everything in me wants to just lay down and I just want to cry – but I know if I do that, I'm never going to get up," Roberts said. The cause of the crash remained under investigation late Sunday. Neighbors have told us speed is a frequent issue in the neighborhood.

There were a lot of lingering questions about the crash. Among the unanswered questions was why officers from the Blue Island Police Department showed up not long after the crash happened – as neighbors told CBS 2's Meredith Barack on Saturday.

Blue Island is more than 12 miles away from Hickory Hills, and officials did not immediately respond to questions about the Blue Island Police Department's presence at the scene, but days later explained that their officers were part of the Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team investigating the cause of the crash.

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