Breaking News
More () »

'Lilly was a vibrant young lady': Red Bud High School community remembers teen killed in train crash

16-year-old Lillian Vandeford was killed after a train hit her car in Randolph Co. Illinois. Her high school educators remember her bubbly personality

RED BUD, Ill. — Educators in Randolph County, Illinois, are remembering Lillian Vandeford tonight.

The 16-year-old was stopped at a railroad crossing in Prairie Du Rocher Friday.

Illinois State Police said the teen stopped for one train, drove around crossing gates and was hit by another train headed in the opposite direction on a second set of tracks.

RELATED: Teen struck, killed by train while driving across tracks in Prairie Du Rocher

It's a quiet day at Red Bud High School, as the 400 students returned from the weekend with one less musketeer.

"The kids here really care about each other. They've been together in this small town their whole lives," Principal Alan Guehne said.

"It's really tough, it's still pretty soon to tell how everyone's doing," Head Volleyball Coach Erin LaGendre said.

On Friday, Red Bud High School Junior Lillian Vandeford was killed after her car was hit by a train in Prairie Du Rocher. 

LaGendre was with her just hours before at practice.

"She had it out with a typical smile on her face and jumped into the car and it was just a couple hours later that we started getting some messages and concerns that people weren't able to reach her and that she had been involved in an accident," LaGendre said.

"It was tough, we had a lot of our student body at a football game in Perryville, Missouri. Our building principal gathered the student body together, confirmed what was happening and he just spoke from his heart to those students," Superintendent Jonathan Tallman said.

 LaGendre, Tallman and Guehne walk the halls with heavy hearts as they remember the life of 16-year-old Vandeford who had just made the varsity volleyball team the week before.

"Lilly was just the light. She was the bright spot in all of our days," LaGendre said.

"She kind of Bee-bopped around the school. Always had a smile on her face, full of energy. Anytime she popped in the office or you saw her in the hallway she had a smile, she was laughing, she was giggling," Guehne said.

"Lilly was a vibrant young lady here, full of life. Had a lot of friends she was on the volleyball team," Tallman said.

"She showed up for her team, and she showed up no matter if it was hard or a good day or a bad day she's just the kid that you love,"

Family, friends, students and staff held a balloon release for Vandeford on Sunday. 

They'll come together again for the funeral services at the high school on Sept. 4.

"So sad. There's just not even words to express how sad we are, but just we're so fortunate to get to have been a part of her life," LaGendre said.

The funeral service for Vandeford starts at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 4th in Red Bud High School's new gym.

Her father Jason Vandeford sent us a message on behalf of the family saying, "Lillian was our social butterfly. At the age of 16 she had touched so many people's lives in ways that make us very proud of her. We appreciate everything and everyone for their support and prayers. Lilly had a saying, 'Let your smile change the world don't let the world change your smile.'

If you'd like to donate to Vandeford's funeral expenses you can visit their GoFundMe page.

Before You Leave, Check This Out