Police open doors for those mourning former McHenry teen’s death
Funeral and visitation information set for Parker Wolfsmith
MAPLE PARK – Police in Maple Park expanded their drop-in program for youths, welcoming them in Wednesday and Thursday, days after the death of 14-year-old former McHenry resident Parker Wolfsmith.
Wolfsmith died Saturday night, hit by a Union Pacific train at the crossing at Liberty and Main streets in Maple Park.
Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta said officers would be there “for those individuals who are still trying to deal with this tragedy.” Josh Salisbury, who helps coordinate activities at the drop-in center, said several had showed up as of Wednesday.
Wolfsmith moved into the Kaneland School District 302 boundaries before the beginning of his eighth-grade year at Kaneland Harter Middle School and previously lived in McHenry.
Funeral arrangements and visitation plans have been set in Kane and McHenry counties. Locally, the visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Justen Funeral Home, 3700 W. Charles J. Miller Road, McHenry. The service will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. For information, call the funeral home at 815-385-2400 or visit www.justenfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name. Checks may be made to the “Parker Wolfsmith Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes may be forwarded to the same address or on the Web at www.conleycare.com.
Acosta said Wolfsmith had attended the police department’s drop-in nights – which run from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the Maple Park station.
“It seemed that he was a very well-rounded young man,” Salisbury said.
Salisbury said Wolfsmith did not visit the drop-in center on the night of his death.
Acosta said his understanding is that the incident took place because Wolfsmith “was trying to see how close he could get to the tracks.” Acosta said that the police are planning safety sessions on how to be safe around the tracks.
Acosta said he plans to view a video taken by Union Pacific as part of the investigation. Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific, said most trains are equipped with video recorders. He said that those with the railroad police typically will show the videos to various agencies, but Union Pacific does not turn the actual tapes over.
Harter Middle School had a promotion ceremony Tuesday night for eighth-graders completing their school year. Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler said there was an insert in the event program that addressed both Wolfsmith and Caityln Phillips, a Harter student who died last year while in-line skating in Elburn. Schuler said both Wolfsmith’s and Phillips’ parents attended the ceremony Tuesday.
Acosta said the Maple Park Village Board observed a moment of silence in Wolfsmith’s honor before Tuesday night’s meeting.
Davis said it’s important to stress that pedestrians and motorists shouldn’t be near trains as the trains are passing through.
He said that train crew members who have to witness such “horrific incidents” can be affected. He said trains that are on the move cannot stop in time to prevent such incidents, adding that there is a counseling program available for crew members involved in such events.
“I cannot imagine the experience of one of the train crew members, and typically it’s the conductor who is having to go back and check on someone who has been struck,” Davis said. “It has to be a very sinking feeling.”
Davis said “our thoughts and prayers are also with the family and friends of this person who was struck.”
A display with a balloon and flowers now sits near the crossing, on the side of the road south of the tracks at the intersection of Liberty and Main streets in Maple Park.