Family, school memorialize 6-year-old killed by driver
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, we reported that the man behind the wheel in the wreck at killed a man and his granddaughter — 19-year-old TJay Klamm, who also died in the April accident in Sesser, Illinois — was driving drunk.
Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones tells us Klamm was not drunk, but he was impaired at the time of the crash.
Jones says the toxicology results show Klamm had drugs in his system: cannabinoids, THC and synthetic cannabinoids.
A simple trip to The Custard Stand changed a local family’s life forever.
Richard Kiselewski was taking 6-year-old granddaughters to get an ice cream cone in Sesser in April.
That’s when investigators say 19-year-old TJay Klamm, crossed the center line on Illinois Route 148 and hit them head on at over 100 miles per hour.
Kiselewski, 6-year-old Sierra Hess, and Klamm died, leaving Meadow Hess the lone survivor.
April 17, 2015, is the day that Chad and Loretta Hess’ lives changed forever.
"Once something like this happens, you can’t go back," said Loretta Hess.
"Every day is a constant reminder of our loss," said Chad Hess.
Six months after Sierra Hess’s tragic death, her family and friends joined together to memorialize her forever on the school’s playground.
"We wanted something as big and as wonderful as she was," said Loretta Hess.
"These are the little things that keep you going," said Chad Hess.
Kids at Waltonville Elementary wrote messages to Sierra and sent them up to heaven attached to balloons.
"They get there,” said Chad Hess. “I know they get there. I let one go on her birthday, and the day after her birthday it ended up at the principal of this school’s house in Bluford."
Her family says those little moments keep Sierra’s memory alive in the form of daily lessons.
"I want everybody to realize that their actions effect others in ways you can never imagine," said Chad Hess.
"For a little bitty girl to touch so many people’s lives, it’s been amazing," said Loretta Hess.
The family raised roughly $20,000 for the playground equipment through memorial funds and donations, but still need about $2,000.
If you would like to help out, you can contact Waltonville Elementary School at 618-279-7221.