Both vehicles were "fully engulfed" in flames after a wrong-way driver caused a head-on collision.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 3, 2022. It has since been updated.
It only takes a moment for your life to completely change.
Lauren Dobosz, 31, her husband, 32-year-old Thomas Dobosz, and her four children—between the ages of 5 to 13—were going on a vacation in Minnesota with a 13-year-old family friend when tragedy struck.
A wrong-way driver caused a head-on collision in Northern Illinois, killing seven people in total. Dobosz, her four kids, and the teenage family friend all lost their lives as a result of the crash, according to the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7.
The crash occurred on July 31, 2022, around 2 am local time on Interstate 90 in McHenry County, Illinois State Police said in a statement, and that both vehicles were "fully engulfed" in flames. The driver of the car that came in the wrong direction, Jennifer Fernandez, a 22-year-old from Carpentersville, was the seventh casualty due to the accident.
The sole survivor of the accident is Dobosz's husband, Thomas, who was the driver of the other car. He remains hospitalized, according to NBC Chicago. When reached out for a comment, the Illinois State Police told PEOPLE that an investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Lauren Dobosz, a long time cheer coach with the Oriole Park Falcons, was killed along with her 4 children over the weekend in wrong way collision on I-90 near Hampshire. Her husband Tom is hospitalized at Loyola. A 13 y/o family friend in their van also died. @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/tpu1DsyVye— Dana Rebik (@DanaRebikWGN) August 1, 2022
"They were hard-working people and just always around," cheer director Ryan Cooper said. "Always there to cheer everybody up, help everyone out, bring everyone together."
Superintendent Dr. Heinz confirmed the tragic news with the school community with a news release from Community Consolidated School District 15.
"We are simply heartsick, and in both shock and mourning over the tragic loss of five students and one of our parents," Heinz wrote in the release. "Our efforts right now are focused on offering support to our entire community, with special emphasis on Willow Bend Elementary, Central Road Elementary, and Carl Sandburg Junior High where the students attended school."
It was also revealed that mental health professionals will be available throughout the week, along with caregiver support training. "Everyone is having a very hard time," a parent whose daughter attended school with two of the young victims shared adding that the "very loving family" were "very involved throughout the community."
Balloon release for Dobosz family- Lauren and her children Emma, Ella, Lucas and Nicky, all killed in I-90 crash early Sunday morning @WGNNews pic.twitter.com/U0HPwWIHRG— Dana Rebik (@DanaRebikWGN) August 1, 2022
Speaking about the depth of their grief, one of the children's teachers, Jean Kohlberg, said, "It's just an awful tragedy."
In addition to being the cheer coach for the junior football team at Oriole Park, home of the Falcons, Dobosz also worked as a bartender in the Rolling Meadows. She was remembered for being a family woman. "She loved her kids and her husband," co-worker Kenny Felten shared. "That was her life."
Meanwhile, one of the founders of the Oriole Park Falcons asked that people keep Thomas "in your prayers."
"Tom, right now, is not going so well," Sharon Swank said. "I don't know if he'll make it. Hopefully, he will. If he does, he's going to need everyone's love and support. I'm sure this is going to be the hardest thing he's ever had to deal with."
The dead included Lauren Dobosz, 31, of Rolling Meadows, and five children: two 13-year-old girls, a 7-year-old boy, a 6-year-old boy, and a 5-year-old girl. Their names have not been released. https://t.co/s7v8RDbEKD— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) August 1, 2022
A GoFundMe, in addition to mourning the death of "our beloved cheer coach," also identifies her "beautiful kids" as Emma, Lucas, Nicholas and Ella.
"Lauren always made a great impression on everyone she met, she was full of life, laughter, and always a good time," a message on the fundraising page read. "We're going to miss you Lauren, and your spunky, sweet, sassy kids."
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Dobosz Family Funeral Expenses