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Thousands mourn teen’s death from street racing

ViridianHuert(left) 16 Beatrice Bueno 18 Jesus Solis 18 JulissDeSantiago 15 NormZamudio 15 all Waukegan place their hands all together ground

Viridiana Huerta (left), 16, Beatrice Bueno, 18, Jesus Solis, 18, Julissa DeSantiago, 15, and Norma Zamudio, 15, all of Waukegan place their hands all together on the ground in front of the memorial for Jose Pimentel, 17, of Waukegan who died Friday night when struck by a car during a drag race in Waukegan. | Thomas Delany Jr~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 27, 2013 9:55AM

WAUKEGAN — The outpouring from people far and wide has touched the family of Jose Ivan Pimentel, 17, killed after an illegal street race that a they are planning a balloon launch in his memory.

The lighted balloon memorial will be held Thursday, March 28, at 8 p.m. at Waukegan’s lakefront.

So many people have left items like flowers, balloons, cards and pictures at a roadside marker by the accident site on Martin Luther King Jr., Drive near Route 43 that family members were there Tuesday afternoon gathering everything up. They were informed by the highway department that the size of the memorial was so big it was now a distraction to drivers.

“They told me it was distraction to drivers so I am going out there to collect everything because his family wants to keep it,” said cousin Jose Luis Pimentel, 27, of Beach Park.

He said if anyone wants to bring a memorial to the teen’s wake today at the Memorial Chapel in Waukegan the family would appreciate it.

He said that so many people have purchased memorial T-shirts from Gifts to Cherish in Gurnee that you now have to bring your own T-shirt. The owner has reduced the price from $25 to $20.

The family is trying to raise enough money to send Jose Ivan Pimentel’s body back to Mexico for burial. At the balloon launch, the family is selling lighted balloons for $3. Originally, they were going to launch candle lanterns, but the Waukegan Fire Department told the family they could not allow that.

“That’s understandable. The last thing we want is to have one of those things start a fire,” said Jose Luis Pimentel.

His cousin’s Facebook page also has been very popular.

“We expected a couple of hundred friends and family,” he said, “but we’ve reached thousands and thousands of people. Over 3,000 have liked the page. We are so humbled that his story has reached out to so many people. We’ve received notes from young and old who said they didn’t even know him, but they sent their condolences.”

Jose Ivan Pimentel of Waukegan died March 22 after he was struck by a vehicle that had been street racing with another vehicle. He died at the scene.

On March 25, police arrested Mario Garcia, 18, of Waukegan, and charged him with reckless homicide, aggravated street racing and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Garcia is being held on $200,000 bond at the Lake County Jail.

Pimentel was a sophomore at Waukegan High School’s Washington Street Campus, but he was in his third year at the school, which is currently on spring break.

A fund-raiser dance benefit will be held Friday at San Luis Restaurant, 50 S. Green Bay Road, Waukegan.

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