‘Beloved’ Cheer Coach and Her 4 Kids Among 7 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash: ‘A Very Loving Family’

'Beloved' Cheer Coach and Her 4 Kids Among 7 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash: 'A Very Loving Family'

A mom and her four children were among the seven people who were killed Sunday morning after a wrong-way driver caused a head-on collision in Northern Illinois. 

Lauren Dobosz, 31, was going on vacation in Minnesota with her husband, 32-year-old Thomas Dobosz, and her four children — who ranged in age from 5 to 13 — when their vehicle was hit, friends and family said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times and WLS-TV. Joining the family on the trip was a 13-year-old family friend, who also died, the outlets reported.

Both vehicles were “fully engulfed” in flames after the crash took place around 2 a.m. local time on Interstate 90 in McHenry County, Illinois State Police said in a statement. The driver of the first car, Jennifer Fernandez, a 22-year-old from Carpentersville, died at the scene.

Lauren’s husband, who was driving their vehicle at the time, is the sole survivor and remains hospitalized, according to NBC Chicago.  

An investigation into the cause of the crash is open and ongoing, Illinois State Police told PEOPLE when reached for comment on Tuesday. 

A memorial balloon launch was held for the family on Monday at the home of the Oriole Park Falcons, a youth football and cheerleading program the couple was involved in. Lauren served as cheer coach while her husband was involved with the cheer and football teams, reported WLS-TV.  

“They were hard-working people and just always around,” cheer director Ryan Cooper told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Always there to cheer everybody up, help everyone out, bring everyone together.”

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In a news release, the kids’ school district said they “are simply heartsick, and in both shock and mourning over the tragic loss,” according to NBC Chicago. 

Mental health professionals will be available throughout the week and there will also be caregiver support training, the outlet reported.

“Everyone is having a very hard time,” a parent whose daughter attended school with two of the young victims told the outlet. 

“I know they were very involved throughout the community,” the parent added of the parents and children. “Everyone said they were a very loving family.” 

Speaking with WLS-TV, one of the children’s teachers said they were having trouble expressing the depth of their grief. “It’s just an awful tragedy,” said Jean Kohlberg. “We would see them all the time and they would wave to me every time. It’s just very sad right now.”

Lauren Dobosz and family, Mom and 4 Children Remembered as ‘Loving Family’ Among 7 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash

Lauren Dobosz and family, Mom and 4 Children Remembered as ‘Loving Family’ Among 7 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash
Dobosz family
| Credit: GoFundMe

In addition to her love of cheer, Lauren — who worked as a bartender in Rolling Meadows — was remembered for her dedication to her family.

“She loved her kids and her husband,” co-worker Kenny Felten told WLS-TV. “That was her life.”

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Speaking with the outlet, one of the founders of the Oriole Park Falcons asked that people keep Tom “in your prayers.” 

“Tom, right now, is not going so well,” Sharon Swank said. “I don’t know if he’ll make it. Hopefully, he will. If he does, he’s going to need everyone’s love and support. I’m sure this is going to be the hardest thing he’s ever had to deal with.” 

A GoFundMe established by the team has already raised over $73,000 as of Tuesday.  

In addition to mourning the death of “our beloved cheer coach,” the fundraising page identifies her “beautiful kids” as Emma, Lucas, Nicholas and Ella.  

“Lauren always made a great impression on everyone she met, she was full of life, laughter, and always a good time,” a message on the fundraising page read. “We’re going to miss you Lauren, and your spunky, sweet, sassy kids.”