BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOV.com) – Prosecutors have charged a 17-year-old in connection with a deadly hit-and-run accident in Belleville, Illinois.
Deputies found a 2018 Chevrolet Malibu off the road between Belleville and Shiloh around 10:25 p.m. The vehicle, which was occupied by four teenage males, went off the side of the road, through a fence, hit a shed and struck a tree in a backyard of the 10 block of Las Olas Drive.
Shawn Titchenal tried to help after the car crashed into his backyard.
"It’s the worst thing I've ever seen," said Titchenal.
When emergency crews arrived at the scene, they took a 15-year-old passenger to the hospital, where he later died from his injuries. The 18-year-old driver of the Malibu was taken to the hospital with a broken leg and other injuries. The two other occupants of the car were not injured.
A friend of the family later identified the teen who died as Kevin Patterson and described him as someone who was guaranteed to make you smile.
Police later said the Malibu had been hit from behind by a 2008 Dodge Ram truck that left the scene.
"Obviously it was struck with enough force to push it off the road,” said Capt. Bruce Fleshren of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department.
The driver of the truck, William Cook, 17, of Swansea, Illinois, was charged as an adult with reckless homicide Friday.
Fleshren said a license plate for the pickup was found at the scene and detectives were able to find the Cook's truck in a nearby subdivision.
Cook is not in custody but is expected to surrender, according to police.
A 16-year-old passenger were not injured in the crash.
"I met the kid’s family this morning and my heart goes out to them. I can't even imagine what they're going through right now," said Titchenal.
Investigators said they’d be able to tell how fast both vehicles were going at the time of the crash by checking their on-board computers. Detectives were unsure what the relationship, if there was one, there was between the teens in the car and the teens in the pickup.
Patterson worked at the Chick-fil-A in Fairview Heights.
The Chick-Fil-A Fairview Heights location held a Spirit Day Monday in honor of the teen.
Store owner Dave Holmes said the teen's interview was the best he ever had.
"After his interview I hired him on the spot," Holmes said. "He lightened up the place."
Monday, the Chick-fil-A location invited diners to come to the restaurant and enjoy some food in his honor.
A portion of all proceeds from the day will go towards helping Patterson's family pay for funeral arrangements. The location is open until 10 p.m.