Home US A 16-year-old California high school football star dies along with his 13-year-old friend in a horrific jet ski accident on a popular Illinois resort lake.

A 16-year-old California high school football star dies along with his 13-year-old friend in a horrific jet ski accident on a popular Illinois resort lake.

0 comment
Sarina Lee Vootkur, 16 (pictured with her boyfriend Jake Cunanan) died when the jet ski she was piloting crashed into a boat.

A high school football star and his 13-year-old family friend were killed in a tragic jet ski accident when they collided with a speeding boat.

Sarina Lee Vootkur, 16, was piloting the Yamaha WaveRunner with 13-year-old Elle Kim as a passenger on Lake Marie near Antioch, Illinois, on Tuesday.

They were speeding north near the canal toward Grass Lake, just north of the Elime Road peninsula, when a 21-foot Sea Ray cabin cruiser crossed their path.

Witnesses said the jet ski was heading directly toward the boat, whose driver, a 55-year-old local, was unable to move out of the way.

Sarina Lee Vootkur, 16 (pictured with her boyfriend Jake Cunanan) died when the jet ski she was piloting crashed into a boat.

Sarina was a star player for the Trabuco Hills High School Mustangs in Mission Viejo, California, and had just finished her sophomore year.

Sarina was a star player for the Trabuco Hills High School Mustangs in Mission Viejo, California, and had just finished her sophomore year.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek said the girls died from blunt force injuries they suffered when the jet ski crashed into the boat around 5:15 p.m.

“Both occupants of the jet ski, who were wearing life jackets, were knocked unconscious and thrown into the water,” he said.

Banek said the four adults in the boat immediately dove into the water and pulled the girls out, then called 911 and desperately tried to save their lives.

One of the girls was brought to shore by the Sea Ray and the other by another passing boat. The jet ski was completely destroyed, police said.

They were rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, but were pronounced dead on arrival.

Police said the boat had priority in the water and its pilot had no chance to avoid the collision.

Sarina was a star player for the Trabuco Hills High School Mustangs in Mission Viejo, California, and had just finished her sophomore year.

“Our hearts are broken… Sarina’s legacy will forever remain in the hearts of all who knew her,” the team said in a statement.

Sarina suffered an injury to her right leg earlier this year and shared her frustration on TikTok when the healing took longer than expected.

‘These last 3 months have been the most difficult I have ever gone through. “Everyone tells me that I will be stronger after this, but all I want is to play football,” he wrote.

Her school posted this tribute to Sarina on Thursday after she was identified.

Her school posted this tribute to Sarina on Thursday after she was identified.

Sarina was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Sarina was rushed to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Her boyfriend, fellow soccer star Jake Cunanan, wrote a heartbreaking tribute that he called “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

“I’m shaking and I honestly don’t know if writing this now is the best time to do it, but I want Sarina’s legacy to be known and how incredible she was,” he wrote.

‘Last year, I met one of the silliest, most loving, caring people to ever grace this earth.

‘Sarina was the best person and girlfriend imaginable. We have shared so many dates and she has been the best part of my life.’

Jake wrote that his mother told him that, despite being an introvert, he needed to appear confident in order to make friends, and Sarina was one of the few who could look past that facade.

‘She made me feel comfortable and heard like no one else could. Every time she faced some degree of struggle, she was able to talk to me about it,” she wrote.

‘Every date, photo and event with her was a joy to the max. She always loved living in the present.

‘What happened is not right. “He had a very bright future.”

Sarina with a teammate from her school's soccer team

Sarina with a teammate from her school’s soccer team

Her boyfriend, fellow soccer star Jake Cunanan, wrote a heartbreaking tribute that he described as

Her boyfriend, fellow soccer star Jake Cunanan, wrote a heartbreaking tribute that he called “the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life.”

Jake started a fundraiser on Thursday that he said would pay for her funeral and a “permanent memorial to commemorate her the way she deserves.”

He said Sarina loved football, journaling, filming, editing and wanted to be an English teacher after finishing school.

Korina, one of Sarina’s close school friends, also wrote a touching tribute on Instagram alongside a collage of photos of them together.

‘When I first heard it, I thought it was a joke. She so wanted it to be one. “I can’t even begin to process what happened,” she wrote.

‘Sarina was one of the truest friends I have ever had the honor of knowing. She was very strong and she admired how she always stuck to what she thought was right.

‘She cared deeply about people and always listened to everything they had to say. She was an amazing and determined soccer player and also incredibly intelligent.

‘He was one of the funniest people I have ever met, had the sweetest smile and brightened everyone’s day. I am very grateful to have spent the first and second year with her.

‘I miss you already Sarina. I wish we had more time together. She wishes she could be with you one last time. Life is so unfair.’

Sarina (right) with Jake (left) and their friends at a sports game.

Sarina (right) with Jake (left) and their friends at a sports game.

Police investigate scene of fatal jet ski crash on Lake Marie

Police investigate scene of fatal jet ski crash on Lake Marie

Sarina’s latest Instagram posts showed her having a picnic with another school friend, Amy, while they drew art together.

“I will always be my number one picnic buddy, my favorite person to yell at Olivia Rodrigo and my other little sister,” she wrote.

“Things won’t be the same without you.”

Elle was from Long Grove, Illinois, in the Chicago suburbs and set records for Mundelein West Oak High School.

She was the only child of Marcus and Teresa Kim, whose neighbors rallied to provide them with food while they mourned.

“Elle was friends with many of her sons and daughters,” said a post in a local Facebook group organizing the effort.

A video of Sarina singing karaoke with friends that was posted in her memory on Thursday

A video of Sarina singing karaoke with friends that was posted in her memory on Thursday

Sarina was riding the Yamaha WaveRunner with her friend Elle Kim, 13, as a passenger on Lake Marie (pictured) near Antioch, Illinois, when they crashed into the boat at high speed.

Sarina was riding the Yamaha WaveRunner with her friend Elle Kim, 13, as a passenger on Lake Marie (pictured) near Antioch, Illinois, when they crashed into the boat at high speed.

Sarina was staying at a lake cabin with Elle and her parents, who are family friends, after traveling there with an adult relative, police said.

Both girls had autopsies performed Thursday to confirm the cause of death and the accident is under investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and the Illinois Conservation Police.

A man was also rushed to the hospital, Antioch Fire Chief Jon Cokefair said, but it was unclear how he was involved in the crash. No one on the ship was injured.

Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli said the jet ski was owned by another friend, who also owned the lake cabin.

Children over the age of 12 can ride a personal watercraft in Illinois, but must complete an eight-hour water safety course to become certified. It was not known if Sarina did it, how much experience she had on a jet ski.

You may also like