Visitation changed to today for Bolingbrook teen who drowned
BY BRIAN STANLEY AND CINDY CAIN firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com August 29, 2013 9:04PM
A "No Trespassing" sign posted on a fence bordering the quarry at 1421 W. 135th St. | Brian Stanley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:35AM
Classmates and officials at Bolingbrook High School on Thursday remembered Javier Vera as a well-liked boy and a good friend who enjoyed playing soccer and taking part in other activities at the school.
Vera, 17, drowned Wednesday night while swimming with friends in a Bolingbrook quarry. Police say it appears the boys snuck into the quarry site, which is fenced off and marked with numerous “No trespassing” signs.
Vera played soccer each of his first three years at the school and was on the yearbook staff as a sophomore, according to Valley View Community Unit School District 365U spokesman Larry Randa.
Charmaine Williams, a junior at the school who had a class with Vera, said many classmates were stricken with grief.
“It was horrible,” she said. “It’s been really sad at school.”
A junior named Rita who declined to give her last name said Vera was a good person and his soccer teammates were especially saddened by the news. She said she had been crying at school.
“He was my good friend,” she said. “Everyone was just sad, and a lot of people were crying.”
Vera was on track to graduate in May and was a lifelong resident of the school district, Randa said. Three of his older siblings also attended schools in the district, Randa said.
“So this family has been around here a long time,” he said.
The district had counselors available Thursday morning to help staff and students deal with Vera’s sudden death. It was the fourth time in three years that a Bolingbrook High School student has died, Randa said.
The school does hold memorial services for students.
“That takes place in the community and the churches,” Randa said.
Vera apparently drowned while swimming laps with friends Wednesday night, police said. Three teens, all 17, started swimming across a water-filled section of the quarry at 1421 W. 135th St. about 7:30 p.m., Bolingbrook Police Lt. Mike Rompa said.
“It appears they snuck in,” Rompa said.
Vera started to struggle, went under the water and did not return to the surface, Rompa said. The other teens tried to help but were not successful and used a cellphone to call 911.
A dive team from Plainfield located the boy just after 9 p.m., Rompa said. Vera was taken to Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:44 p.m. An autopsy performed Thursday confirmed Vera drowned.
The quarry is near the Bolingbrook-Plainfield border. Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Co. general manager Ken Lahner said the company had owned the property but that it was sold three months ago to an unidentified LLC.
While Elmhurst-Chicago Stone Co. still operates a ready-mix plant across the street, the quarry has not been operational for several years, Lahner said.
Neither Lahner nor Rompa was aware of previous trespassing incidents at the quarry.
The site is surrounded by a 6-foot chain-link fence with two strands of barbed wire at the top. “No trespassing” signs are posted about every 20 yards.
A high berm prevents the water from being seen from the isolated street, which turns into the frontage road of southbound Interstate 55 a quarter-mile to the east.
Visitation for Vera will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Bolingbrook McCauley Chapel, 530 W. Boughton Road. A funeral Mass is slated for 9 a.m. Saturday at St. Dominic Church, 440 E. Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook, with interment to follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Bolingbrook.
Contributing: Frank Vaisvilas and Sun-Times Media Wire