'Such a big shock': Friends rally to support Inverness mom, daughter in poisoning case
Friends of an Inverness family are in shock and disbelief after authorities said the father poisoned himself and his children with carbon monoxide over the weekend, killing himself and his 10-year-old son while critically injuring his 6-year-old daughter.
Police say the father Woo Chang, 41, and son, 10-year-old Austin Chang, were pronounced dead at their Palatine Road home late Sunday afternoon after they and 6-year-old Jeslyn Chang were found unconscious by the children's mother, who had gone to the home after the children had not returned from a weekend visit with her estranged husband.
Inverness police Chief Bob Haas said investigators found a gasoline-powered generator inside the home that was turned on but had shut off after running out of fuel.
Jeslyn was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in critical condition, Haas said. The hospital declined to provide an update on her condition Tuesday.
Those who knew the children described them Tuesday as good and funny kids.
"They had a really great sense of humor," said Palatine resident Roxana Williams, whose children met Austin and Jeslyn over the summer in an arts camp through ArtReach Educational Theatre.
Williams said the camp ended with a performance of the play "Frozen JR," with Austin starring as villain Prince Hans, while her daughter, 11-year-old Madison Siemiaszko, played Anna.
She said her other daughter, 13-year-old Ella Siemiaszko, spoke with Austin last week for a school project in which she asked people to describe Ella and her talents.
Williams said the tragedy is her children's first experience with severe grief.
"They just don't understand why it happened," she said.
Inverness resident Tommy Teel said his son was good friends with Austin, who was a student at Frank C. Whiteley Elementary School in Hoffman Estates. Austin and Jeslyn had visited with his family last week, he said.
"We had done a fair amount of stuff with them, and fairly recently. That's why this is such a big shock," Teel said.
In the wake of the tragedy, friends have started a GoFundMe online fundraiser to support the surviving daughter and the children's mother, who was estranged from her husband.
The fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/f/scmvx7-support-for-the-chang-family had raised more than $31,000 toward a $100,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon. Organizers said the money would help pay for burial costs, medical expenses and financial assistance for the mother.