The father of a north suburban high school basketball player died Monday morning in an I-88 crash while traveling to see his son play in a basketball tournament, Pioneer Press reports.
Park Ridge resident Thomas Gardiner, 56, was headed to see his son, Maine South senior forward Tommy Gardiner, play in Galesburg’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day tournament, the report says. Thomas Gardiner was also the uncle of junior forward John Gardiner.
The Peoria Journal Star reports Maine South coach Tony Lavorato was having lunch with the team when he was notified of the accident. A game between Maine South and Peoria scheduled Monday was cancelled.
"This is a very sad time for our basketball family," Lavorato told Pioneer Press. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family."
According to the newspaper, Gardiner was the eldest of 13 kids. His sister, Peggy, told the paper Gardiner was the patriarch of the family after their father died two years ago.
Counselors were available to students and staff at Maine South Tuesday morning.
Illinois State Police told the newspaper Gardiner was the only person in the vehicle when it was traveling westbound, crossed into the eastbound lanes, down into a ditch and crashed into a tree.
It was unclear if weather played a role in the crash, Pioneer Press reported.