Teenage crash victims remembered in Middleton homecoming parade

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - For a homecoming parade like no other, Middleton High School honored the three young men who passed away in a car crash Saturday night.

Students began the Wednesday night parade from the school, marching with signs that said the victims’ names. Jack Miller and Evan Kratochwill were seniors at the school. Simon Bilessi, who was also killed in the crash, attended Madison West High School and was friends with many Middleton students.

“We never got to get our matching tattoos,” Pritpal Seerha, a friend of the crash victims, said. She was reading the text messages she sent to Bilessi after he passed away. “We never got to hang out again, and we never got to FaceTime again.”

Seerha continued to read, “Please come back. I’m begging you. I love you so much.”

(l-r) Simon Bilessi, Evan Kratochwill, and John "Jack" Miller
(l-r) Simon Bilessi, Evan Kratochwill, and John "Jack" Miller(Jon Szczepanski/Wisocnsin Rush Soccer Club & Middleton-Cross Plains School District)

Mia Pence, who said she was close friends with Miller, said, “Every single time that I do start smiling and laughing I feel automatically guilty, like I should be missing them, and, of course I do, but they would want us to have a good time all the time.”

Miller had leukemia and beat it twice, according to Seerha. “Even when he was going through all of that, he was still the light of like everything,” she said.

At the parade, Brian Finnel, the boys’ cross country coach, stood with his team, now missing a key member.

“If you’re standing by yourself, [Evan] would just go over and start talking to you,” he said. “And that’s special. Not everyone can do that, and he just had that personality.”

Athletes held signs that said, “We run for Evan.” Finnel agreed, that is now the team’s slogan as the runners prepare for an invitational Thursday. The plan, according to Finnel, is for the whole team to run in unison and meet Evan’s personal record of 19 minutes and 43 seconds.

Middleton High School is planning a themed jersey day also on Thursday, then celebrating the homecoming game on Friday, when the senior class will wear black.

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