Champaign community comes together to remember a life lost too soon

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CHAMPAIGN—It was an evening filled with hugs, tears, and even laughter as friends and family gathered at a vigil Monday night remembering Dominique Phillips, after he was killed Friday when the car he was driving crashed into a train.

After a devastating drive from Tennessee to Illinois, Kimberly Phillips pulled up to a crowd spilling into the street: a welcome wave of support during a time filled with so much pain.

“It makes me feel better knowing that he was well-loved by the community,” said Kimberly.

Kimberly arrived in Champaign to say goodbye to her 20-year-old son. Dominique Phillips died Friday after crashing into an oncoming train at a railroad crossing. On Monday evening, friends and family remembered the 2013 Central High School graduate and the man he wanted to become.

“He loved basketball, he was trying to start up a team and everything,” said his mother. “He wanted to teach kids.”

That desire to help kids landed him a job at the Douglass Community Center, and that's where he was headed from Friday night to meet his girlfriend, who realized something was wrong when he never showed.

“He was supposed to pick me up from work and he never came,” said his girlfriend, Taylor Ware. “He texted me right when he got off and told me he would be a little late. And you know, I just feel so bad because I was like, ‘hurry up!'”

Phillips was traveling west on Bradley Avenue around 7:40 in the evening, approaching the tracks by Oak Street, where the rail crossing barricades were lowered. Authorities say he tried to avoid the safety arm and, while crossing the tracks, was hit by Amtrak train heading north. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

“He was a really great guy, he did everything in his power to make sure everyone around him was happy,” said Ware. “Even if that meant he had to sacrifice something.”

Seeing him happy is what those closest to him will miss most.

“His smile, just his smile,” said Kimberly.

A bright smile for a man with a bright future lost too soon. The coroner says Phillips died from multiple blunt force trauma sustained in the crash, however toxicology reports are pending.

A funeral is scheduled for noon on Saturday, February 14, at Jericho Baptist Church.

Those wishing to contribute to a fund to help the family pay for the arrangements can do so at the following link: http://www.gofundme.com/lsuotg

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