Three people representing three generations of a Palatine family died Thursday when their car veered into the path of a truck near Sycamore, authorities said.
Angelina Felix, 57, and her daughter, Jenny Perez, 19, and 2-year-old grandson, Roberto M. Perez, were killed when their Mitsubishi Galant crossed the center line on Peace Road and slammed into the truck head-on, according to the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department.
Police said it was unclear what caused Jenny Perez to drive her northbound vehicle into southbound traffic at 11:18 a.m. Thursday, adding that the crash remained under investigation.
The driver of the truck, Reid Robert Anderson, 27, of Sycamore, was uninjured and refused treatment, police said.
Anderson later told co-workers that the car crossed the center line and kept heading toward him despite his honking.
The crash occurred after the family took a detour during a trip to visit Felix's husband and Perez's father at the Dixon Correctional Center, about 100 miles west of Chicago, said Maribel Perez, a relative of those killed in the crash.
Her mother, Angelina Felix, had forgotten her identification necessary to visit the Dixon prison, Maribel Perez said, adding that her sister, Jenny, called and asked her to drive the ID card to Sycamore.
Once she got there, Maribel Perez encountered the police roadblock at the crash scene.
After pulling over, she said she recognized the rear end of the family's Mitsubishi sedan, which was scattered across the roadway.
DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said both adults were wearing seat belts and that the child was properly fastened in a car seat.
As news of the deaths spread, dozens gathered at Felix's home on Palatine Road. The home of the mother of six and grandmother of many more has always served as the family's gathering spot, Maribel Perez said.
"My mom was so funny. She could make anyone laugh," she said, noting her mother's outstanding cooking skills and how she'd miss her Mexican rice.
Maribel Perez also remembered how she and Jenny occasionally went dancing but how her sister preferred to stay at home with her son.
"We'd go places. We shared clothes. We shared rooms," she said of her sister.
They also shared a dream of becoming nurses, with both studying at Harper College, she said.
Miller, the coroner, said Jenny Perez had spoken on her cellphone with her sister about 11 a.m. but that it was unclear whether she was using the device at the time of the crash less than 20 minutes later.
"The phone was found in the back seat of the vehicle," he said.
Maribel Perez said her sister told her to drive toward Sycamore and that she would give her a specific location for them to meet in the small town.
"She said she'd call me back," Maribel Perez said, her voice breaking as she began to cry. "And she never did."
Tribune reporter Bill Ruthhart contributed.
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