CHICAGO — A 21-year-old woman tragically killed in a car crash along the Tri-State Tollway Saturday was remembered by a friend as "one of the nicest people I've ever met."
Danielle Pisterzi, 21, was killed in an accident about 10:45 p.m. Saturday. Pisterzi was driving by herself southbound on I-294 in Glenview when she lost control of her car and rolled over the median, said Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Brian McKinney.
Pisterzi, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car, authorities said. She was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where she was later pronounced dead, officials said.
Pisterzi, a senior studying accounting at Northern Illinois University, graduated in 2009 from Resurrection High School, where she ran cross country.
Resurrection coach Fred Angelini said Pisterzi was the Bandits' best runner as a senior, and a great leader.
"Team members could count on her to motivate them to do their best," Angelini said. "She had a way of finding something positive to say about any situation."
Danielle qualified for the Niles West Sectional in 2008, but she pulled a hip muscle two days before the race.
Danielle ran the race anyway, with "a little tape and her strong will to succeed," Angelini said.
The star runner even missed her personal best by only four seconds. After graduating, Pisterzi would still stop by the 7 a.m. summer run club to keep in touch her team, Angelini said.
"We have lost a wonderful young lady," he said.
Aubrey Hannig, 22, a senior at NIU, said Pisterzi was the first friend she made at the school. When the two both stood lost in the music building one day, they realized they were looking for the same class and helped each other find it.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," Hannig said. "We sat next to each other that day and the rest of the semester... ever since, we were friends."
Hannig said Pisterzi was outgoing and friendly, and even though the two didn't run in the same social circles, they made time to see each other over the next several years.
"She was one of the nicest people I ever met," Hannig said. "I still can't believe this. I'm in shock."
Attempts to reach Pisterzi's family were unsuccessful.