A 16-year-old girl, out for a walk with a friend during a sleepover, died after falling on the electrified third rail along CTA tracks in Evanston early Wednesday.
Samantha Cerrone, an incoming junior at New Trier High School, stumbled and fell just north of the Central Street station around 2:30 a.m., according to Evanston Police Cmdr. Ryan Glew.
Cerrone, of Winnetka, was taken by paramedics across the street to Evanston Hospital, where she was pronounced dead nearly an hour later, Glew and the Cook County medical examiner’s office said.
Cerrone had a friend sleeping over when the two decided to walk along the Purple Line tracks early in the morning, Glew said. They started near Isabella Street, where the tracks are at ground level, he said.
After Cerrone fell, her friend tried to pull her off the third rail and suffered minor injuries, Glew said.
Autopsy results have not been released.
An online obituary for Cerrone notes that she “lived to not be ordinary and encouraged others to have the confidence to do the same.
“She loved music and self-expression. A true goal setter. She was an advocate for others and had an impactful spirit across all age groups,” her obituary reads. “Samantha valued her time and strived to live life to the fullest each day. She will forever be missed by all that knew her.”
New Trier Winnetka Campus Principal Denise Dubravec announced the death to students and staff in an email Wednesday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that one of our students, sophomore Samantha Cerrone, has passed away following a tragic accident,” Dubravec wrote.
“Our thoughts, prayers, and love go out to her parents and all of her friends and family during this extraordinarily difficult time,” she said.
Greg Hartman, Cerrone’s club swim coach, described her as a tough competitor with a “quirky sense of humor.”
“She really did a good job embracing her friends and made a couple very close friends on this program that were directly impacted by her death,” Hartman said. “As a community, we’re trying to rally with this because we know that Samantha valued that so much.”
Though Hartman only coached Cerrone for the past couple years, they forged a close bond. “I feel like I lost one of my own,” he said.
Hartman said flowers are now being laid close to her home “to honor her and the life that once was.”
A visitation is scheduled for Saturday at Donnellan Family Funeral Home in Skokie. Cerrone’s obituary notes that “an act of kindness towards one another is requested each day in Samantha’s memory.”