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Volleyball player Beth Dunlap dies after being hit by vehicle

Man responsible, Thomas Kucharski, is in police custody

After being hit by a car on February 19, Downers Grove North junior Elizabeth Dunlap was taken off life support and died over the weekend.

Dunlap was reported hit by a car driven by Thomas Kucarski of Naperville at approximately 10:55 A.M. in the intersection of Main and Grant Streets. 

The preliminary investigation indicated that Dunlap was crossing Main Street in the marked crosswalk when struck by a vehicle traveling southbound.

According to reports, Dunlap had the walk signal and was crossing properly.

A Monday hearing for the 51-year-old Kucarski was pushed back to from to 9 a.m. Tuesday after his charges were upgraded to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI-alcohol/drugs resulting in death.

Dunlap was a setter on the Trojan volleyball team that placed second in the state in Class 4A this season.

In the two games at state, she tallied 31 assists, including 11 in the state championship match.

A member of the 2018 Voyager Media All-Area team, Dunlap posted 979 assists, 276 digs, 65 kills, 29 blocks and 47 service aces for the Trojans.

“There are so many things to say about Beth and yet I’m at a loss given how tragic and unbelievable this is,” said DGN coach Mark Wasik. “I know that her passing is a reminder of how precious each of our kids are and a reminder of how blessed and privileged we as a coaching staff have been to be able to coach Beth and her teammates.  She led us on a magical state run that made school history and now we as a community are grieving her passing all within three months time. She had an entire life ahead of her and it was taken by a senseless accident that was no fault of her own. Beth was a competitor, she was feisty, intelligent, fun-loving, stubborn, sincere, and had a beautiful spirit that will be remembered forever among all that knew her.”

Volleyball programs around the area, from JCA to Benet Academy to Marist have taken to Twitter to extend their sympathy to the family and Trojan program.

Her teammates also expressed their feelings on social media.

North team leader Margaret Mahlke Tweeted “Beth Dunlap...is more loved than she will ever know and I am beyond thankful to have known her. #BethStrong”

Counseling and Student Support Services staff will continue to provide individual supports and offer counseling as long as students need it. Any student who is struggling is encouraged to seek out their counselor. Parents are encouraged to call their child’s counselor if they want someone to initiate contact with their child.

Dunlap’s father initiated a positive way to remember Beth as he started an ‘18 for #18 effort’ to celebrate her life by doing 18 positive things or acts of kindness in Beth’s honor.  

Groups around Downers Grove, at all schools, have shown support.

Members of the Downers Grove South girls track and field team wrote the No. 18 on their hands during a weekend indoor meet, while teachers from across the district had the No. 18 drawn on Tshirts during a charity basketball game Sunday night.

Visit http://www.buglenewspapers.com for updated information.


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