A suburban school community is mourning the deaths of two Naperville natives who were among the eight people killed Friday during a crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival in Houston.
Jacob "Jake" Jurinek, 20 and Franco Patino, 21, both attended Neuqua Valley High School and graduated in 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Lance Fuhrer, Neuqua Valley's principal, released a statement early Monday saying the school community is saddened by the "tragic loss."
"We honor their friendship that has roots at Neuqua Valley and grieve alongside the communities of both the University of Dayton and Southern Illinois University," he stated.
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Patino was a senior majoring in mechanical engineering technology at Dayton University, a member of Alpha Psi Lambda and active in numerous groups on campus.
Relatives say he was a hardworking person who would always try and make time for family and others he cared about.
"Franco was a beloved friend, cousin, nephew, brother, and son. He was loved by so many because of the loyal, loving, selfless, protective, funny, and caring person he was," his family said in a statement Monday, in part. "...We will miss the big heart Franco had and his passion for helping others."
Julio Patino, Franco's father, said his son was working with a team on a new medical device, and that he wanted to find a way to help his mother walk again after she was severely injured in an automobile accident in Mexico two years ago.
Through tears, Julio described how his son — who enjoyed weight lifting, football and rugby — used his strength to break a door and free his mom from the wreckage.
“He loved his mom,” Julio said. “He said everything that he was doing, it was trying to help his mom. The entire goal.”
Jurinek, Franco Patino's longtime friend, studied art and media at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he was a junior.
In a statement Sunday, Jurinek's family said he was affectionately known as "Big Jake" by his younger cousins - a name reflecting his "larger-than-life personality."
"Jake was beloved by his family and by his seemingly countless number of friends for his contagious enthusiasm, his boundless energy, and his unwavering positive attitude," the statement read.
He will be missed by his father, Ron Jurinek, with whom Jake became especially close after Jake’s mother died in 2011.
“In the decade since, Jake and Ron were inseparable – attending White Sox and Blackhawks games, sharing their love of professional wrestling, and spending weekends with extended family and friends at Jake’s favorite place, the family cottage in Southwestern Michigan,” the family’s statement said.
Both men were in attendance Friday night when chaos unfolded at a performance by musician Travis Scott and the massive crowd “began to compress toward the front of the stage,” officials stated.
City officials said they were in the early stages of investigating what caused the pandemonium at the sold-out Astroworld Festival, an event founded by Scott. About 50,000 people were there.
Authorities said that among other things, they will look at how the area around the stage was designed.
As of Monday, more than a dozen lawsuits had been filed against Scott and Astroworld organizers, with more expected.
Patino’s brother Cesar, in a statement to NBC 5 this past weekend, called his brother an “amazing person,” adding he wants to make sure that such a tragedy never befalls another family.
"...I just want people to know that my brother isn’t just a number at a concert that died," he said. "He was a good, amazing person that loved to have joy and fun in his life, and wanted to be living his life to the fullest.
“Hopefully he can get recognized from this, and can get his justice he needs, and make sure that (this) doesn’t happen to another person,” Cesar added.