'He'd always make everybody laugh': Family, friends gather to remember teen killed in crash

  • Jackie Teuerle holds a candle during a candlelight celebration for her son, Riley Teuerle, on Thursday at Towne Park in Algonquin. Riley Teuerle, 17, died on Aug. 2 in a car crash in Lake of the Hills.

    Jackie Teuerle holds a candle during a candlelight celebration for her son, Riley Teuerle, on Thursday at Towne Park in Algonquin. Riley Teuerle, 17, died on Aug. 2 in a car crash in Lake of the Hills. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network

  • Peter Passuntino talks about his grandson, Riley Teuerle, pictured behind him, during a candlelight celebration on Thursday at Towne Park in Algonquin. More than 100 family members and friends gathered at the park to remember and celebrate Teuerle's life.

    Peter Passuntino talks about his grandson, Riley Teuerle, pictured behind him, during a candlelight celebration on Thursday at Towne Park in Algonquin. More than 100 family members and friends gathered at the park to remember and celebrate Teuerle's life. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network

 
 
Updated 8/12/2022 8:15 AM

Riely Teuerle was just a few weeks away from starting his senior year at Jacobs High School in Algonquin when he was killed early last week in a three-way crash in Lake in the Hills.

At least 100 community members -- many of them Riely's friends from school -- gathered Thursday night at Algonquin's Towne Park for a vigil honoring the 17-year-old's memory.

 

Family members, including his grandfather, Peter Passuntino, and his brother-in-law, Alex Bartilotta, shared their memories and their loss before everyone, including Teuerle's mother, Jacqueline, lit candles and prayed.

"This is a celebration of Riely's life," Passuntino said. "I watched Riley grow up from a baby to a young boy to a teenager to a young man. He would have been proud to have you all here tonight."

Passuntino noted that Teuerle used to come to Towne Park to play baseball.

Bartilotta described Teuerle as "more than a brother," noting he would stay at his siblings' home for "months." Teuerle also had three sisters.

"He always wanted to do something: play catch, learn how to skateboard," Bartilotta said. "It's not fair [that he's gone]. But nothing we said or could have done would change anything. It's a lot to take in. It's sad."

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Teuerle's peers described him as an active, energetic and funny -- a friend who liked to play sports and tell jokes.

"Riley was a great man," said fellow rising senior Edgar Puga, who said they were "real close" and had known each other since elementary school.

"He was a great person to talk to," Puga said. "He cared about everyone as much as he cared about himself. We're still trying to process what happened."

Another friend, Sasha Gerardy, said she was driving less than a mile behind where the crash took place and saw all the police cars and ambulances arriving at the scene.

"He'd always make everybody laugh," Gerardy said. "He was the coolest person ever, always up for anything. It's unfortunate this whole thing happened; I'm glad we're here tonight to celebrate him, to figure it all out together."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some of his friends said it could be a long time before they recover from Teuerle's loss.

"It's been difficult," said rising senior Alex Maheo, a friend of Teuerle's who sat with him at lunch. "This has not been easy on any of us."

Two family friends, Jeannine and Guy Balmer, recalled fondly how he used to come to their house for oatmeal, a tradition that lasted until high school.

"He was a typical teenage boy," Guy said. "We used to take him around when he was a kid. It's amazing to see how many people are here tonight, how many people this loss touches."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Lake in the Hills Police Department as of Thursday evening.

Visitation for Teuerle will be held from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, at Miller Funeral Home in West Dundee.

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