MAPLE PARK – The Kaneland School District 302 community is mourning the death of a Harter Middle School eighth-grade student, who died Saturday night, days before the school's eighth-grade promotion event.
Parker Wolfsmith, 14, died after an incident that took place at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the North Liberty Street railroad crossing in Maple Park, according to the Maple Park Police Department. He was hit by a Union Pacific railroad train, and Police Chief Mike Acosta said Monday the incident is not being investigated as a suicide.
Acosta said Wolfsmith, who resided just outside the Maple Park village limits, was with a group of people, but that Wolfsmith was the only one near the train crossing at the time. Acosta said he is waiting for film footage from the train that could provide more details about what happened.
"We're still trying to figure out what all went down," he said.
Kaneland Superintendant Jeff Schuler said Wolfsmith had moved into the district at the beginning of his eighth-grade year. Schuler said staff members described Wolfsmith as "a fun-loving bright guy" with a "great sense of humor."
Schuler said the district had a "full complement of support staff" available to students on Monday. Schuler sent out a news release on Sunday, and an email was sent out to families in the district, and Schuler said part of the goal with that decision is so that "parents can begin processing that information."
"Unfortunately, we've been through this with other students," Schuler said, adding that the Kaneland community "absolutely" has been supportive in such situations. In April 2013, Caitlyn Phillips died after colliding with a car while inline skating a few blocks from her home.
In the news release, Schuler noted that district officials wanted "to extend our deepest condolences and sympathy to Parker's family and friends." It also noted that any arrangement information would be posted online at www.kaneland.org, but that information has not yet been posted.
The district's eighth-graders are to participate in an event, the Class of 2018 eighth-grade promotion and dance, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Schuler said that event would go on as scheduled.
"Certainly, it creates a very difficult circumstance under which some of our students are going to be attending that celebratory event," Schuler said.