|Birth: ||Jun. 3, 1975|
|Death: ||Jun. 8, 1997|
Jennifer Jo Esworthy, 22, of Ogden passed away as a result of a car accident on U.S. 45/52 near the Iroquois-Kankakee county line. Jennifer died at a Kankakee hospital the evening of the accident. Her sister, Jaclyn Esworthy, 18, also died in the same crash. Their parents and Jennifer's fiancee, who was also riding in the car, were seriously injured.
Jennifer had recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in business and had just become engaged. Both she and her sister were popular students and well-known in their small farming community of 743.
The Esworthys were returning from a baptism when their car was broadsided by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign. The driver had been driving illegally for 13 years after his license was revoked for repeated DUI offenses. He had reportedly consumed two cases of beer the day of the fatal accident.
Nearly 1,000 mourners attended the funeral. The services were changed from the Esworthys' home church of Ogden United Methodist to a larger church to accomodate the crowd. Over 300 cars made up the funeral procession.
The following year, largely in part of the Esworthy family and their supporters, Illinois governor Jim Edgar signed into law two bills that strengthened drunk driving laws, including one that dramatically stiffened penalties for repeat DUI offenders. The family, who created an organization called "Journey" with two J's as a tribute to Jackie and Jennifer, also helped raise funds to purchase video cameras for county and campus police squad cars.
The driver of the other vehicle pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide. He was released from prison in 2003. Within a year, he had been rearrested for drunk driving.
Obituary was written from numerous articles in the News-Gazette.
Mount Olive Cemetery
Created by: Vermilion County Saving ...
Record added: Aug 16, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 15391265