A 17-year-old junior at Downers Grove North High School who was struck and critically injured by a Naperville man suspected of drunk driving earlier this week will not recover from her injuries, the school’s principal told the student body Friday.
Elizabeth Dunlap was struck by the vehicle of Joseph Kucharski, 51, about 10:55 a.m. Tuesday while crossing the intersection of Main and Grant streets near the high high school, according to a statement from the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office. Kucharski was taken into custody Friday after a $5 million warrant for his arrest was issued.
On Tuesday morning, Kucharski’s vehicle barreled south on Main Street as Dunlap walked legally over a visible crosswalk, the state’s attorney office said. It was previously reported that he had allegedly gone through a red light when he struck her.
“We learned last night that Beth will not recover from her injuries, and that her family is making final arrangements,” Downers Grove North Principal Janice Schwarze said as she addressed students Friday, according to a statement posted to the school district’s website. “Those who know Beth know that she was a fierce competitor and a strong person.
“As hard as this loss is for all of us, I believe that she would want us to be strong and take care of each other.”
Today was one of the most heartbreaking & heartwarming days of my 30+ year career. Beth, we'll miss you & our hearts are broken, but you have brought people together in unimaginable ways. You have inspired us to be strong & to be good. #do18fornumber18 #BethStrong #WeAreDGN— Janice Schwarze (@jschwarzeteach) February 23, 2019
The principal added in her announcement that Dunlap’s organs would be donated to “take care of others.”
“While this tragedy has forever changed the lives of many in our community, the lives of other people have new hope because of Beth,” the principal said.
Schwarze noted that the community was remembering Dunlap, who was a volleyball player at the school, by doing positive acts in her honor incorporating the number 18, which was her number on the team. Examples given were performing 18 random acts of kindness or donating $18 to a charity.
Eighteen seconds of silence were also observed for Dunlap during the school day Friday, Schwarze said.
“The North High community is obviously hurting right now, but by caring for each other, we will get through this together,” she said.