Friends and coaches of a former Crystal Lake South High School student spent their Saturday in shock and mourning.
Anthony Pauls, a 2009 high school graduate, died Saturday morning of severe injuries from an alleged hit-and-run accident, according to Urbana authorities.
The 22-year-old from Lake in the Hills was a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
According to the Urbana Police Department, Pauls was walking near the intersection of 200 West University Avenue and Lake Street at about 11:50 p.m. Friday when a vehicle struck him, causing severe injuries. Police responded to the scene after receiving the 911 call from Pauls, reported the Daily Illini, the campus newspaper.
He was declared dead at 7:54 a.m. Saturday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.
An officer stopped the driver, Albert T. Fleming, 20, several blocks from the scene of the crash, Urbana Police Department officials said.
The police report states Fleming, of Champaign, who had a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage on his breath,” admitted to consuming alcohol.
Fleming is facing preliminary charges that include driving under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident involving death, and other traffic violations. He is being held at the Champaign County Jail on $500,000 bond. The investigation is continuing.
Fleming has a court appearance scheduled for today.
The news quickly spread throughout the Crystal Lake South community. Pauls played football and baseball for the Gators all four years.
Pauls was also on the National Honor Society and went to U of I to study engineering, said James Vazquez, a former Gators baseball teammate who had known Pauls since the age of 10.
Pauls was the first classmate Vazquez befriended as a first-grader at Woods Creek Elementary School.
“I came from New York when I was about to go into first grade,” said Vazquez, 22. “Tony was the first kid I became really good friends with.”
A mutual friend who attends U of I called Vazquez on Saturday morning.
“I was shocked,” Vazquez said. “Couldn’t move, just depressed.
“I couldn’t even fathom that I’ll never get to see my best friend basically.”
Gavin Meyer, another former Gators baseball teammate, remembers Pauls as a “good student and a good friend to everyone who liked to make you laugh.”
“He was a great friend,” Meyer said. “He’ll be missed by the whole community.”
As a high school athlete Pauls was “very hard-working, respectful and yet also a leader on the field for his teammates,” said Brian Bogda, his varsity baseball coach. “I think the team looked up to him because of his outgoing [personality]and his character. They really fed off his positive outlook each day.”
Pauls played as an outfielder in baseball and as a linebacker in football.
Chuck Ahsmann coached Pauls in varsity football and was his physics teacher. Ahsmann described Pauls as an “All-American kid” who never took his academic and athletic talents for granted.
“He was not only one of those guys who had so much going for him, he worked hard to make [himself] the best he can be,” Ahsmann said. “That’s what really makes him special. I couldn’t be any more proud of him as an athlete and as a person.
“ ... You think when one lives a good life and always does the right thing that this doesn’t happen. But life can be cruel. Life doesn’t discriminate. And this is one of those moments that’s so hard to understand.”