Local Student Tragedies


Lauren Shelton, Reporter

     Another tragedy struck the region when a one-vehicle accident occurred over the weekend. It took place on U.S 20 and involved a 16 year old girl from Loves Park who was driving home on the late evening. The accident was reported around 10:20 pm on the Saturday night near Prairie Road. The young girl, Lacy Matthews, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz. Two friends of Matthews were also in the vehicle and were immediately taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries is still unknown to the public. Her vehicle was traveling east when she lost control and swerved into the ditch.

     “It wasn’t another car or animal…It was just unfortunate. All we know is she left the roadway and struck a tree on the driver’s side,” said Hintz.

     Matthews was driving her small, four-door Ford at the time and the accident is still under investigation by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s and Coroner’s offices. Her fellow students at Harlem High School have all sent their condolences to Matthews close family and friends.

     This isn’t the only death of a young individual that the Rockford area has experienced recently. Just a few weeks ago, a 15-year-old boy who was a sophomore at Auburn High School, was shot and killed. Lavontay Allen was unexpectedly shot while riding in a car when numerous bullets were fired near the intersection of Central Avenue and Preston Street. The shooting took place around 10:15pm according to Rockford police and his mother, Jaton Watts, was the only other person in the vehicle. Watts did not sustain any life-threatening injuries, but was taken to the hospital that night. Allen made it to the hospital, but passed away from his wounds later that night.

     “He was an amazing young man. He was always giving, caring and joking. His smile could melt any heart,” said a friend of Allen’s mother, Ashley Purty.

     Allen had huge plans for himself beyond high school, including being a college athlete. He was known as a very well rounded student at Auburn and played football and basketball.

     “He always struck me as a pleasant, energetic young man. He was always trying to do the right thing. He messed up from time to time like kids do, but he was always respectful,” said the head football coach at Auburn, Dan Appino.

     Allen’s friends and classmates also held a memorial service at the school where guests signed poster boards at the entrance.

     “I’m a very strong person but inside I’m just tore up, I’m just tore up. This was a kid that you wouldn’t expect this to happen to him,” says senior Orintho Farris.

     In the end, all of the families and friends in the the cities have been able to come together and support each other. Now, they can only hope that through education and safety, future tragedies will be stopped.