Teen in Illinois killed in crash after prom

Diane Pathieu Image
Monday, May 18, 2015
Aaron Dunigan, 18, poses for a pre-prom photo with his mother, Kaye Jackson.

CALUMET CITY, Ill. -- Two people were killed, including an 18-year-old on his way home from an after-prom party, after a crash in south suburban Calumet City, police said.

Aaron Dunigan was in a car with two other teens when their car slammed head-on into another car early Saturday morning, police said. Dunigan and the 56-year-old driver of the other car died as a result of the accident.

"He loved football more than anything," Dunigan's mother, Kaye Jackson said. "It was his very first word."

Dunigan was a senior at Thornton Fractional North High School. Known as an outstanding quarterback for the school's football team and an all-around good kid, he was planning to finish high school and head to Southern Illinois University in the fall.

According to his mother, Dungan was leaving an after-prom party at a hotel near his house with his two good friends.

"He says, 'I love you mom, I'll see you later,' and I said 'I love you too,' and that was the last time I saw my son alive," Jackson said.

Police said 18-year-old David Peden was behind the wheel. The group was traveling east on State Street Saturday morning when police said Peden crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic, hitting a pickup truck head-on.

Dunigan, sitting in the passenger seat, was killed.

Police said the driver was tested for having marijuana in his system and has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, and there may be more to follow.

"If there is found to be intoxicated at the time, it could be elevated," said Chief Edward Gilmore, Calumet City Police.

Dunigan was set to graduate high school on Wednesday. His mom plans to sit in his seat so it is not empty.

"That smile had to infect a million people," Jackson said. "I never want to forget that smile."

The driver of the truck, 56-year-old Juan Rivera, was also killed. Neighbors said Rivera was on his way to work. The Calumet City resident lived alone and his family has arrived in Chicago from Texas.

A third passenger in the backseat with the young men was injured and is recovering in the hospital.