ALTON — A former student-athlete at Alton High School died Tuesday evening in a crash on Interstate 90 in northern Illinois between Rockford and Chicago.
In a press release, McHenry County Coroner Dr. Anne Majewski said Demonte Wigfall, 18, of Godfrey, was traveling east in a vehicle with three other people when the vehicle lost control, spun out, struck and bounced off the concrete median wall, then hit a tractor-trailer truck. Wigfall was pronounced dead at 6:04 p.m. at the scene.
A female in the vehicle was taken to St. Anthony in Rockford and subsequently pronounced dead. Two others were reported to be in stable condition. Specifics of the crash are pending an Illinois State Police investigation.
Wigfall played football and basketball at Alton and graduated in 2015. According to media reports, he was a former student at Rockford University.
“We’ve had some discussion on what to do and how to get it done and we’ll probably have a little more information later,” Alton boys’ basketball coach Eric Smith said of honoring Wigfall at Friday night’s home basketball game vs. Edwardsville. “Right now we’re just trying to focus on the kids.
“It was a fairly close knit group of kids last year. They did a lot of stuff together, played a lot of sports together and were around each other outside of athletics. They’ve continued to do so and the bond those kids have — it’s tough.”
Smith added, “He was a competitive kid that worked hard for us. He always had that big ol’ goofy smile on his face and he did everything we asked for the three years that I’ve been here and he was involved in everything we did. We spent a lot of time together over the course of three years and being around him was enjoyable because of his personality and how he handled himself and the kind of kid he was.
“We’ve tried to get a hold of a bunch of the kids that were here last year and obviously trying to get a hold of the kids that are here this year."
Alton athletics director Jeff Alderman also had the pleasure of coaching Wigfall. Alderman was the Redbirds' head football coach from 2012-14 where Wigfall contributed as a solid wide receiver.
"I was coming into school this morning when I was notified and no words can really describe that empty feeling. It's tragic," Alderman said.
"He had a very infectious smile and he was so well respected by all his teammates and friends. He was a competitor and he was unselfish. He would do anything that it took for a team to win and he was a big part of our small amount of success we had in 2014."
Alderman is sure there will be a small tribute to Wigfall when the Alton boys' basketball team plays host to rival Edwardsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"He's a Redbird and we will probably have a small moment of silence or something just to remember him and I'm sure all the kids and his former classmates would appreciate that, as well as his family," Alderman said.
Bill Roseberry contributed information to this story.