As police try to solve the mystery of what happened to a Lane Tech High School student in the hours between when he left Lollapalooza and was killed by a Metra train in Lincoln Park on Sunday, hundreds of people are going online to make donations to cover the teen’s funeral expenses.
Within 24 hours of going live, a GoFundMe page had collected over $24,000 by Wednesday afternoon to help cover funeral expenses for 17-year-old Sincere Ash, as well as establish a memorial in his name.
Ash’s mother, Precious Stovall, a graduate of Lane Tech herself, said an outpouring of support from the Lane Tech community has kept her going since learning of her son’s death.
“Knowing that all the things we’ve felt about him, others have felt as well has warmed my heart,” said Stovall, a special-ed teacher at Philip Rogers Elementary in Rogers Park.
“I’m just trying to be patient and stay positive as the investigation plays out and I’m hopeful it will give us some justice and some clarity on what happened.”
Ash became separated from friends at Lollapalooza after two unsuccessful attempts to sneak into the music festival by jumping a fence, according to a law enforcement source.
Private security stopped him the first time. Chicago police stopped him the second time, according to a law enforcement source. He was not cited or arrested. A Chicago police officer gave Ash, who didn’t have any money, a few dollars to help him get home, the source said.
Two hours later, about 6:15 p.m., his body was discovered on the railroad tracks of an overpass near the Clybourn Metra station located at 2001 N. Ashland.
On Wednesday, Metra police were trying to retrace Ash’s steps to determine what happened, Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said.
Police have no idea how he ended up getting hit by a train. No witnesses have been found. There are no security cameras on the train platform.
Reile said she didn’t know if investigators had yet to review any footage from cameras placed at the front of Metra trains that are aimed 150 feet down the track.
Though nothing has lead investigators to believe Ash’s death was anything but a tragic accident, “nothing is been ruled out at this point,” Reile said.
Friends said Ash had lost his cell phone the previous day. And no identification was found on his body.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Stovall said. “My son always carried a wallet and kept his ID and Ventra card and a few dollars in it.”
Ash’s cousins, Marcella Hawk, 25, wonders if he might have been headed back to a friend’s home in Logan Square where he’d been staying in order to be closer to his job as a summer camp counselor.
Ash normally lived with his mother in the Dunning neighborhood.
Stovall said her son, who was headed into his senior year at Lane Tech, wanted to go to New York University and become an art therapist.
Missy Smith, a teacher at Lane Tech, said Ash was planning for his future.
“He asked me to write a recommendation letter for college already. I said ‘Absolutely, see you in the fall,'” Smith said.
“He’s every teacher’s dream,” Smith said, pausing to collect herself.
Funny, fashionable, caring, empathetic and inclusive were a few of the words she used to describe Ash.
“He would bridge the gap with all the people at Lane. He was friends with the athletes, the dancers, he was friends with everybody,” she said.
“In my 20 years of teaching, I’ve had several of my students pass away but this one really really stings. I’m totally brokenhearted.”