GIBSON CITY - Students at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School were hit with tragic news as they arrived for classes Friday. One of their fellow students had been killed in a car accident and his twin brother critically injured.
GCMS Superintendent Chuck Aubry said Friday night's sporting events were canceled in the wake of the death of Gregory T. Arends, 17, of rural Melvin.
Mr. Arends' twin brother, Stephen Arends, was critically injured in the crash.
The boys are the only children of GCMS school board member Randy Arends and his wife, Bonnie, according to Aubry.
?They're quality kids, well-respected by the faculty. It's a great loss for our community,? he said Friday afternoon.
Illinois State Trooper Jennifer Radosevic of the state police post at Ashkum said she was sent to the crash on Illinois 54, just south of County Road 900 E in Ford County, at 6:47 a.m. Friday.
She said Gregory Arends was driving his parents' Oldsmobile 88 south on Illinois 54 when, for an unknown reason, he lost control. The car went into a side slide, entered a ditch on the west side of the road, and struck a utility pole on the driver's side, Radosevic said. She estimated the impact speed at 52 mph.
Both teens were wearing seat belts, she said. Emergency workers were able to get them out of the car without special assistance.
Gregory Arends was pronounced dead at Gibson Community Hospital, Radosevic said. Stephen was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Friday night.
Radosevic speculated Gregory Arends must have been distracted by something, because the road conditions were clear and dry.
?It doesn't appear the car left the roadway. It just seems like things happened quickly and he looked away for a second,? she said, adding there were no eyewitnesses.
Aubry said two district social workers and two guidance counselors, as well as members of a local ministerial alliance, were called to the high school to talk with grieving students. Aubry said teachers were informed of the accident in a staff meeting, then read a written announcement about it in their classrooms Friday morning.
The boys are seniors in a class of about 66, Aubry said.
Students who wanted to have the day off were allowed to leave after contacting parents, Aubry said.
He said the school decided to cancel Friday night's home basketball game and an away wrestling match.
The Arends brothers are members of the golf team, Aubry said.
?They are well-liked by all the kids,? he said.
The seniors are participants in a work-study program, Aubry said, where they work a few hours a day and attend classes the rest of the day. Both were apparently on their way to their respective jobs, he said, Gregory to Arends Brothers implement dealership and Stephen to his job at Brucker's Polaris, both of them in Gibson City.