Hampshire High student killed in crash; distracted driving a possible cause

Updated 5/5/2017 5:01 PM

A 17-year-old from Pingree Grove was killed and several other teenagers were injured in a Thursday night crash in unincorporated Hampshire Township that authorities attribute to distracted driving.

The crash occurred around 8:20 p.m. along Dietrich Road between Route 20 and Brier Hill Road. A 2005 Toyota Corolla traveling east on Dietrich Road was about to go over the crest of a hill when it crossed the centerline and went partially into the westbound lane, striking a 2005 Ford sport utility vehicle, authorities said.


Both vehicles rolled over. The Ford came to rest on the north side of Dietrich Road, while the Toyota settled on the south side.

There were two teenagers in the Toyota and four in the Ford. All were wearing seat belts and were taken to area hospitals.

The driver of the Toyota, Brianna Soto, a junior at Hampshire High School, was pronounced dead at Centegra Hospital in Huntley. McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski said an autopsy revealed the cause of death as blunt trauma to the head and abdomen, and her office continues to investigate.

Her 17-year-old female passenger, also from Pingree Grove, and the four teenagers in the Ford -- a 16-year-old girl from Lake in the Hills who was the driver, and passengers, two 16-year-old girls from Algonquin and Hampshire, and a 15-year-old girl from Huntley -- were treated at Sherman Hospital in Elgin for injuries that were not life-threatening. All have been released.

Kane County sheriff's detectives and members of the Kane County Accident Reconstruction Team are investigating the crash. No citations have been issued.

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"The girl that was driving was on her phone," said Lt. Patrick Gengler, spokesman for the sheriff's office. "We don't know what she was doing. This is just a huge reminder. Last month was Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Nobody should have their phone out. There's a reason why those laws are in place."

Gengler also said the dynamics of the hill make it difficult for drivers to see a car coming until they are on top. "Those kids (in the Ford), there's nothing they could have done," he said.

Officials don't know yet how fast both vehicles were traveling.

Hampshire High School Principal Brett Bending sent this email to parents about Soto's passing:

"We know that this loss may impact many in our Whip-Pur Family. Whenever a school community deals with the death of a student, regardless of the circumstances, the emotions will be complex and difficult. In order to respond to the emotional needs of students dealing with this loss, today we are providing grief counseling for any students who are in need of support in a safe environment staffed by professional counselors and social workers."

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