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Remembering Liz

Family, friends remember teen as ‘fun, forgiving’

Elizabeth “Liz” Daniels was funny, loving and everybody’s friend in life.

Her death has cast an even wider circle. Her family extended forgiveness to the driver of the car she was riding in and they also allowed her body for organ donation.

Liz was killed Sunday, April 21, when the car she was riding in was struck by another vehicle at the intersection of McLindon Road and U.S. 6 in Minooka.  The driver of the car she was riding in, Patrick O’Connell, 17, was ticketed for disobeying a stop sign and for failure to reduce speed. Two other teens were riding with them.

Her sister, Nicole, of Morris said the family does not blame O’Connell.

“There’s no ill will,” she said.  “It was an accident.  He’s not from around here. He didn’t see the stop sign. People need to love like Liz and forgive.” 

“He’s going to hurt just as much as we are,” said Heidi, Liz’s mother.

The Daniels family — her mother, Heidi, father Mark and, younger sister Ella — sat and talked Sunday, April 28 about their daughter’s ability to make friends with everyone and how she would not have had ill feelings toward anyone. 

“I can’t remember her not being a fun person,” her mom Heidi said. “Even when it wasn’t fun, five minutes later, she’d be having fun.”

Her mom also said that 30 people benifitted from Liz’s donated tissue and bone. 

Liz’s generosity was part of who she was. Liz’s very close friend and nearby neighbor Keisha Williams said before they would get on the bus for school, Liz, who was good at math, would help Keisha with her homework. 

“She loved school,” her mom said.

Her fellow students showed love for her, too. The evening of April 25, about a hundred students and parents showed up to honor Liz with a candlelight vigil outside of Minooka Community High School South Campus, where Liz was a freshman. Her friends stood and talked about the fun and loving person that they knew.

“She brought out the greatness in everyone,” her cousin Katie Daniels told the crowd.

Dakota O’Brien called her a one-of-a-kind girl with a characteristic weird “yeah.” He flung his arms to show the crowd how she’d say it.

One of the speakers painted a picture of Liz as a fun-loving person who spread cake frosting on her own face and couldn’t get the color off later.

Her mom later echoed the same sentiments about Liz, who would dress up occasionally, but was just as comfortable with her “Channabilly” t-shirt on; a girl who would leave a messy room behind, and girl who had inside jokes in her texts to her mom. “Houston, we have a problem” was one. She even sent a photo moments before her death — a picture of herself and her girlfriend mugging for the camera.  

Then there was the talented dancer who was impatient during the times when Orchesis, the high school dance club that she belonged to, would have down time during rehearsals. And there was the girl who loved straightened teeth, the whole process of getting braces, and wanted to be an orthodontist.

Liz’s mother said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.

The girls in the high school’s Orchesis dance company will have a remembrance of Liz, as well.  The business Liz’s dad, David, works for, Northern Illinois Steel, will make a contribution to the high school club in Liz’s memory.

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