Community Support Outpouring, Remembering 2 BNHS Cheerleaders Killed in Car Crash Friday

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Feb. 28 Story

BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- It’s been days since a tragic accident shook the town of Belvidere when two 16-year old Belvidere North Cheerleaders were killed in a car accident. Schools and towns across the Stateline have shown their overwhelming support for the Belvidere community.

Superintendent Michael Houselog said, "These are families that are really hurting; the community is hurting."

Classmates of Brenda Gutierrez and Thalia Arredando are starting to pick up the pieces that have shattered their school. The victims’ friends are removing pieces of the car accident from the scene.

Teammate Kristin Hauser said, "They were on my cheerleading team, and Brenda was like the little sister I never had."

Junior Danielle Harris said, "Brenda and Thalia were some of our best friends, so it's good to know that people that didn't even know them that well care enough to come out here and bring flowers."

Belvidere and other communities across the Stateline are continuing to show support for the school and families affected.

Houselog said, "All the Rockford Schools, Hononegah, everybody. The entire NIC-10 Conference and beyond has been incredibly supportive. The student body and all the schools, and in the entire region for that matter, it's just been an outpouring of support and love for these young women, young girls. Everybody's been remarkable and supportive, and we've really appreciated that."

Belvidere North students have the support of therapy dogs along with counselors and psychologists--offered in the school library for those still grieving. Close friends of the two girls have been honoring their friends by finishing what they started.

Harris said, "I didn't go to school today because we were up last night painting Brenda's wall. She had a design and we filled it in. Yesterday, I didn't want to go but I felt we should. And everyone was just really supportive and nice."

Friends say the two cheerleaders exemplified school spirit and will be remembered during a special service inside the school's gymnasium.

Houselog said, "Belvidere doesn't have a facility large enough to take in all the people we expect to be there to give their last respects to these great young women."

Visitation for Brenda Gutierrez and Thalia Arredando will be at Belvidere North High School’s gymnasium. School will still be in session, but students who wish to not attend school will not be counted as absent.

The memorial service will be Thursday at the gymnasium at 10:30 am. School will not be in session.

Lulac of Rockford will be doing a fundraiser for the girls since the family is lacking money to bury them. They will be holding a basketball game at the girls’ high school. Alerta of Belvidere will also be doing a fundraiser to support the families. For more info call Nancy Gonzalez President of Lulac of Rockford 773-619-2119

Feb. 27 Story

BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- Students across the Stateline are uniting to remember two Belvidere North High School cheerleaders killed in a car accident on the way to a home basketball game Friday.

We’ve had hundreds of comments on this story on our WIFR TV Facebook page.

Today was the first day back at school since the accident.

Belvidere North High School has its flag at half mast in mourning of its juniors Brenda Gutierrez and Thalia Arredondo.

The 16-year-old Belvidere North cheerleaders died in a car crash Friday night on Rt.76 in Belvidere. Family, friends, classmates, and the community mourn the loss with a memorial at the crash site. Visitors gathered to pray and leave posters, teddy bears and flowers.

Friends and classmates describe Gutierrez and Arredono as genuine and positive--saying their smiles were contagious.

Belvidere North High School has extra counseling on staff today, including therapy dogs.

The investigation is still ongoing and the cause of the crash is unknown.

Other schools in the surrounding areas, including Sycamore and Belvidere High School, have sent flowers as donations to the school.

The whole community has come together in wake of this crash. We're told Belvidere High School's cheer team will be cheering at tonight’s Belvidere North basketball game.

BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- Icy roads and blowing snow created unfavorable driving conditions across the stateline Friday night, including on Route 76 in Belvidere. That's where 16-year-old Belvidere North students Brenda Gutierrez and Thalia Arredondo lost their lives in a car crash. Police believe slick roads may be to blame in the accident that's shaken the entire community.

Belvidere North principal Marc Eckmann says, "We lost two very important members of our student body and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of our students, the student body and our entire community."

According to police, around 5:30 Friday night, Gutierrez and Arredondo were driving a Chevy Cavalier when the driver lost control of the vehicle, sliding into oncoming traffic, before hitting a SUV. As news quickly spread of the accident where both girls were pronounced dead at the scene, surrounding communities came together in memory of the two Belvidere North cheerleaders.

"The outpouring of support has been tremendous. I've received e-mails from other principals, I know other schools are interested in doing whatever they can”, says Eckmann.

Several students and staff members made their way to the high school this morning, meeting with counselors to talk about the accident, something that counselors like Kevin Polky of KP Counseling believes can be helpful in the grieving process.

"The biggest thing is we just want to be able to be there for them, to be able to hear where they're at. A lot of times they can be going through moments of disbelief, ‘how is this happening? I just saw them’”, says Polky.

Preliminary autopsy results found that Gutierrez and Arredondo both died from chest and abdominal trauma although the crash remains under investigation.


BELVIDERE (WIFR) -- The Boone County Coroner says 16-year-old Brenda Y. Gutierrez of Poplar Grove and 16-year-old Thalia C. Arredondo of Loves Park died in a car crash yesterday evening.

Preliminary autopsy results show both girls died from chest and abdominal trauma.

A car crash on Rt. 76 just south of Caledonia Rd. has claimed the lives of two Belvidere North students.

We are told by students that the two girls were on the school's cheer leading team and were on their way to the basketball game tonight.

Both the driver and passenger were pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say the two girls were driving a Chevy Cavalier southbound on Rt. 76 when thee driver lost control. The Cavalier went into the north bound lane and struck a Chevy SUV. Police believe that the weather caused adverse road conditions that lead to the crash, but they are still investigating.

The four occupants of the SUV were all treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

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