Lockport H.S. students mourn classmate Jay Vana
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com September 28, 2012 10:46AM
A memorial can be seen where Jay Vana typically parked his vehicle at Lockport Township High School East Campus Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in Lockport. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 28, 2012 7:28PM
Born four minutes after his brother and two minutes after his sister, Jay Vana was technically the baby of the family.
Vana, part of a set of triplets with his brother, Matthew, and sister, Amy, actually took on the role of the big brother, said his mother, Michele Vana.
“He was the protector,” she said.
Vana, 16, of Homer Glen, died suddenly Tuesday night in an auto accident.
A wake for Vana will be held from 1 to 9 p.m. Friday at the funeral home his family owns, Kurtz Memorial Chapel in New Lenox.
It will be difficult on his birthday Oct. 10, particularly for the triplets, Michele said.
Having spent years helping grieving families say goodbye to their loved ones, the Vanas now find themselves the recipients of that kind of aid.
“It’s indescribable,” Michele said, adding that she can feel the love from the community now as people try to help them cope. “You’re always there to help someone. But you never think that you’re going to be in their shoes. You always think that your place is to help them.”
Outgoing and cheerful, Jay Vana made friends easily, she said.
That was evidenced by the outpouring of sorrow at his school, Lockport Township High School East.
On Thursday, much of the student body there wore black to mourn him.
His death has quieted the high school, said Kim Brehm, spokeswoman for Lockport Township High School District 205.
“It’s solemn,” she said.
Students posting on Twitter under the hashtag #RIPJV confirmed that.
Neon green ribbons floated from trees along the street where Vana lived, a tribute to a beloved lime green Camaro Vana drove. Brehm said the same green ribbons were on the rearview mirrors of student vehicles parked at the school Friday.
Vana had gone to McDonald’s with a friend Tuesday night and was riding home when the accident happened, less than a mile from home, Michele Vana said.
Will County deputies were called at 8:38 p.m. Tuesday to Lauffer and Haas roads in Homer Glen. They found a 16-year-old boy from Lockport there yelling for help.
Police said Vana was found partially underneath a pickup truck that had left the road and rolled over. Vana, who had been a passenger, was thrown from the vehicle.
The initial investigation suggests the driver attempted to turn south onto Haas Road. The driver told police a deer came out of the field and he lost control when he swerved to avoid it.
Vana was taken to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox where he was pronounced dead.
Police said there was no indication drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.
Ken Kaupas, deputy chief of the Will County Sheriff’s Office, didn’t provide any more details of the incident Friday morning, as the crash remains under investigation.
“He died having fun,” Michele said. “He loved to be with his friends.”
Vana’s friends cope by creating memorials. There is one in the parking space where Vana used to park his Camaro, Brehm said. Vana’s locker is also decorated, she said.
“It’s a beautiful way for the student body to pay tribute to him,” Brehm said, adding that guidance counselors have been available all week for students who need to talk.
“The entire Lockport Township High School community is deeply saddened by this,” she said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends right now.”