NORWOOD PARK — A 17-year-old Taft High School student hit by an outbound Union Pacific Northwest train Friday morning has died from his injuries, officials said.
The teen, identified as Erik Lucansky by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, was hit by the train about 6:50 a.m. in the 6300 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Norwood Park, Metra spokesman Tom Miller said.
Erik was taken to Lutheran General Hospital, where he later died, said Larry Langford, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.
"It is with heavy hearts that we must inform the Taft community of the passing of one of our students. Erik Lucansky was tragically struck by a train and killed while crossing the tracks at Bryn Mawr and Avondale on his way to school," the school said on its website Friday.
"Grief counselors have been made available in the school and are currently meeting with students and staff. Please join us in offering Erik's family our deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow," the school said.
Erik was a junior at Taft, where he was a cheerleader, Taft students said.
"He was the type of kid who always had a smile on his face. He was always there for others. Just a really good kid," said Fermira Abdic, a friend of Erik from Taft, at 6530 W. Bryn Mawr.
Fermira, 17, was one of several Taft students who left the school early after school officials told them of Erik's death during the morning announcements. Most of the student body was in tears, even students who barely knew him, Fermira said.
Fermira had math class with Erik and will always remember the hug he gave her after walking her to class earlier this week.
"It's really hard. It's crazy," Fermira said, wiping away tears Friday morning. "The bad thing always happens to good people."
Fermira wasn't the only one in tears. Her mother, Fehira Abdic, also cried as she described her fear when her distraught daughter called her Friday morning.
"I was scared half to death when she called me. I ran into school I was so scared," Fehira Abdic said.
She found her daughter crying in the lobby of the school. Her anxiety waned for a moment when she realized her daughter was unharmed but returned when she was told about Erik's death.
"It's terrible. I feel so sad for the parents. That kid just started his life," Fehira Abdic said. "I couldn't imagine anything like that happening to my child."
Rose Bates, 57, remembered Erik as a "great" and "friendly kid" whom she met about a year ago at her daughter's birthday party.
"I'm devastated, especially for the family. I'm praying for them and the train engineer," Bates said. "It brings death so much closer to you. When you're 17 you aren't connected to death like someone in their 60s or 70s."
Bates rushed to the school when she heard about the tragedy to comfort her daughter, who was distraught about the news.
"I just wanted to go give her a hug to make sure she knew I was there for her," Bates said. "She's having feelings of 'Why? Why would this happen to someone so young?'"
Friday evening, friends and fellow students gathered near the spot where Lucansky was struck for an impromptu memorial. They placed flowers, candles and stuffed animals near the tracks as the sun set.
Contributing: Quinn Ford