MAHOMET, IL (WCIA/CNN) - A student who died while driving in the midst of a sudden dust storm is being fondly remembered in an Illinois community.
"He was an excellent student. He was a strong spiritual kid and a friend to many people, especially the soccer boys,” said family friend Brooks Marsh. It was a young life taken from the Mahomet community too soon.
Marsh says Jacob Hamilton, 16, was a role model to many. "My son looked up to him and he mentored him. Sometimes he was even a spiritual mentor to him as well. He would take him out some times and just say, 'let's just talk Alec,'” Marsh said.
Hamilton was driving along route 36 between Tuscola and Camargo when a dust cloud passed over the road. Officials say he was unable to avoid a collision, and was killed. Other cars were involved in accidents during the storm that officials described as horrific, WCIA reports. Hamilton hit a truck, the report said. Visibility was down to 10 feet in the storm on Wednesday, officials said.
"It's a pretty huge loss for the community,” Marsh said. Marsh says it's a tragedy for everyone.
And his son Alec is holding on to his last memory of Hamilton. “Alec last night, I was hugging him and he said, ‘I'm so glad I hugged him when I saw him in the halls today.’ You know those boys sometimes they high five, but sometimes they hug," Marsh said.
Hamilton played soccer for the Bulldogs. And it was only fitting to have a vigil at the nets. The vigil drew nearly a thousand people.
Marsh says as a father himself, it hurts to know he's gone. "Nothing worse for a parent than the thought of the loss of a child. And to grieve the loss with a mom who just wants to hold her son one more time, it's very difficult," Marsh said.
There were counselors and comfort dogs at the school earlier on Friday. The district says they will continue to be available for any student or staff member who needs them.
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