Memorial held for three alumni killed in crash

By Nick Escobar

More than 200 students, faculty and alumni gathered on the steps of Foellinger Auditorium on Tuesday night to mourn the passing of three recent University graduates.

Three alumni were killed in an automobile accident Sunday morning on Interstate 57. Charisse R. Hartzol, 22, of Hazelcrest, Ill., was driving home from a Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity party when her car crossed the highway median and slammed into an oncoming van. Her passengers, Ramadan K. El-Amin, 23, of Chicago Heights, Ill., and Michael Edwards, 25, of Chicago were also killed.

The van’s driver, Edward Gaines, 62, of Monee, Ill., was also killed. His two passengers were listed in critical condition at the time of this report.

Tuesday’s candlelight vigil was followed by prayers and song. Those in attendance then proceeded to room 112 in Gregory Hall where mourners passed a table with images of the three alums to pay their final respects. A slide presentation depicting photographs of the recently deceased was shown to the audience as people offered scriptures, poems and songs.

University alum Sherrika Ellison and University student in LAS Arthur Scales preformed “Eyes is on the Sparrow.”

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Purple ribbons were given to attendees to commemorate the service.

“It’s been very hard for upperclassmen; They were very very close to (the three),” said Nameka Bates, assistant director in the office of the dean of students, who was at the vigil. “For those who can’t make it to the funeral, this is their chance to grieve.”

Mourners were allowed to address the gathering of people and reflect on their memories of those that they lost.

Presentations from members of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and friends of Hartzol shared people’s memories of the three.

The classroom quickly filled to capacity, and many mourners were left standing in the halls. The heat and anxiety to get inside the room added to the emotions of the already fragile group. Many began to weep as they passed the table with images of their friends. Many who were unable to participate in the services sobbed as they waited in the hallway.

“Everyone’s emotions are running wild,” said Edward Gamble, University alumnus. “Situations like these are always hard to deal with.”

Gamble, who lived with Edwards and El-Amin while they were at the University, said he’s been doing a lot of reflecting about his time on campus recently.

“(I’m) feeling a lot of shock, sadness, all the things that come with losing someone close to you,” he said.

Bates added that people were really coming together. She added that it would take everyone in attendance to help one another through the grieving process.

“We didn’t have to ask for this, it just happened,” said Gamble. “That’s very significant.”

Hartzol was a sixth- and seventh-grade Chicago public school teacher. She is survived by her parents and six siblings. ABC News quoted Hartzol’s father as saying that she did not drink or do drugs.

El-Amin, a former McNair scholar, was enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Illinois-Chicago with a fellowship.

Nothing of Edwards’s current situation was known at the time of this report. However, Bates did add that Edwards had a reserved personality but could cheer you up and make you laugh if you needed it.

The service was held by Black Greek Council and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.