CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Three Champaign siblings are mourning the loss of both their parents; they died in the I-55 dust storm, Monday.
“This has been incredibly hard, and I am trying my best to represent them,” said Elizabeth Zinchuk.
She lost both of her parents in the I-55 crash on Monday. Now she and her two brothers are trying to wrap their minds around their new reality.
“I truly feel like I’m going to wake up from a nightmare and they were still going to be there,” said Zinchuk.
Last weekend Zinchuk spent the weekend in St. Louis with her parents.
“We did a taco bar crawl,” said Zinchuk.
Blissfully unaware it would be her last time seeing them.
“We took them to Forest Park, which is a big park in St. Louis, I took my last picture with them there,” said Zinchuk.
Her parents Amy and Mike drove home Monday morning; Elizabeth’s husband heard about a dust storm, so she reached out.
“I didn’t think too much of it, but I did text, and she didn’t text me back right away,” said Zinchuk.
Not responding right away was normal for Amy, but missing piano lessons wasn’t.
“Some of her piano students came knocking on our front door and Matt my youngest brother called me and said, ‘Hey, have they left St. Louis yet? They’re not here’,” said Zinchuk.
Shortly after they learned why their parents didn’t come home.
“We’re very angry because this is just one of those things that’s incredibly unfair,” said Zinchuk.
On top of mourning their parents, Elizabeth says she is grieving for the future she’ll never get with them.
“Having my parents see them as grandparents, that was a dream of mine and that was a dream of theirs, and they’ll never accomplish that,” said Zinchuk.
As sad as Elizabeth is, she wants to talk about the amazing people her mom and dad were.
“He was a goofball, a kid at heart, and loved played cards, always looked at mine,” said Zinchuk. “My mom had up to 60 piano students.”
Two of those students were Cassie Beer’s daughters.
“They just felt she was so sweet all the time, and it’s really touched my kid’s lives,” said Beer.
And just like Elizabeth, she still can’t fathom that her dear neighbor and friend is gone.
“We can’t wrap our mind around it we’re still in shock and we don’t know how to move forward,” said Beer.
Elizabeth says hearing stories about her parents has helped, but nothing will replace the people who shaped her. For now, she and her brothers will be standing together as they try to get through the unthinkable.
Amy had a recital planned for the end of the month. Her students’ parents are still putting things together so they can host it in her honor. There is also a go-fund-me account to help their kids as they navigate arrangements.