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Truck fleeing police kills Stevenson H.S. student, parents in Arizona

Updated: March 31, 2014 7:57PM



Three members of a Vernon Hills family on spring break in Arizona died Friday when a car being chased by police struck their vehicle on a highway near the Grand Canyon, authorities in Arizona said.

Tomohiro Hirayama, 50, his wife Sachiyo, 42, and their son Yuki, a 16-year-old sophomore at Stevenson High School in northwest suburban Lincolnshire, were killed in a wreck just after 9 p.m. Friday.The Hirayama’s 9-year-old daughter, Rinka Hirayama, was the lone survivor of the crash, and remains at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, authorities in Arizona said. Rinka attends Half Day School, also in Lincolnshire.

Stevenson spokesman Jim Conrey said the Hirayamas moved to the area from Holland last summer, and had no relatives in the United States.

“This was a big shock to everybody,” he said. “It’s a real tragic situation.”

Raul Garcia, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said officers from the police department in Navajo, Ariz., were pursuing a 2002 Ford pickup with two people inside, but added that the officers were about a mile behind the truck as they sped east on U.S. 160. He said he did not know why Navajo officers were chasing the truck or why they were about a mile behind.

The truck crossed the two-lane highway’s yellow line, Garcia said, and crashed head-on into the Hirayamas’ Chrysler.

“That truck burned at the scene,” Garcia said. “Its occupants have not been identified yet.”

Medics declared Tomohiro, Sachiyo and Yuki dead at the scene.

Conrey said Yuki had been involved in the school’s fencing program, and had also made close friends in the school’s English-language learners’ classes.

“He was part of a tightly knit group,” Conrey said. “He was always in a happy mood, and I think the kids really liked him.”

Garcia said Navajo investigators are still sorting through the crash’s details.



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