Local, Park Forest, Schools

School District Mourns Death of Child

Mohawk Primary Center in Park Forest, district death
Mohawk Primary Center in Park Forest. (Google Street View)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 is mourning the death of a 7-year-old child after the 2nd grader was struck by a school bus Friday afternoon and later succumbed to his injuries. District officials expressed their “great sadness” in a statement sent to families, friends, and staff.

The child, a 2nd-grade student at Mohawk Primary Center, was struck by a Kickert school bus that was transporting students from Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 at the time of the incident, according to police. Mohawk Primary Center is located in the 300 block of Mohawk Street in Park Forest, south of Sauk Trail and east of Blackhawk Drive.

“Chicago Heights School District community has suffered a tremendous loss,” the district said in a statement. “It is with great sadness that we inform you that a 2nd-grade student at Mohawk Primary Center was struck by a school bus and died on Friday, January 20, 2023. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the entire family in the difficult days ahead.”

District officials described the child as “a joy to all of his teachers, kind-hearted, smart and funny; always with a smile on his face.”

“He will be missed greatly by the Mohawk and District 163 students and educators. Our entire school district is saddened by this tragic event,” officials said.

Officials acknowledged the magnitude of the tragedy, “It is very difficult to experience the death of a young person.”

The district will provide support and assistance to family, friends, staff, and students, officials said.

“Children may have questions and worries about this loss,” the statement continued. “We will implement an emergency crisis intervention plan in partnership with the University of Illinois Urban Trauma Center to offer support and provide counseling during this most difficult time.”

The district provided a Zoom link for family, friends, staff, and students seeking support. The link will be available on Saturday, January 21st at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 22nd at 2:00 p.m.

The district will also have support services and grief counseling available at Mohawk Primary Center and Michelle Obama School of Technology and the Arts on Monday, January 23rd from 8:30 a.m. through 4:00 p.m.

“Feel free to come to the school office if you would like to talk with a counselor or contact our Student Services Department at (708) 668- 9434 for an appointment,” officials said. “The well-being of our students and staff will remain a top priority as we deal with the emotions surrounding this tragedy.”

The district said it is cooperating fully with the Park Forest Police Department as this matter is investigated.

“Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. The Board of Education and the entire school community offers our deepest sympathy to his family and friends,” the statement concluded.

Mohawk Primary Center is located at 301 Mohawk St. in Park Forest.