Fil Am Student Hit By Lightning, Dies

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (FAXX/jGLi) – An alarm of lightning prediction system sounded in the O’Brien Park at Chicago’s northwest suburban Downers Grove before 17-year-old Filipino American high school senior student Jeannie Dizon strolled around.

So, when lighting struck the park Thursday (May 30) afternoon, it was too late for her to seek cover in a building, hard-top vehicle, dense woods or low-lying areas.

Police said a witness saw lighting and saw Dizon on the ground. The witness went to help but she was unresponsive.

She was pronounced dead on the spot and the DuPage County Coroner’s report said her death was caused by “electrocution due to lightning strike.”

Dizon, of Downers Grove, is the daughter of Manila-native Eric Dizon and the former Marietta Bravante of Majayjay, Laguna province in the Philippines. Eric’s father is Remegio Dizon of Mexico, Pampanga in the Philippines.

Jeannie is supposed to graduate high school on Sunday (June 2nd) at the Catholic school, Benet Academy, in nearby suburban Lisle and planned to take a trip to Europe, a cotillion for her 18th birthday in June and to study theater at the University of Cincinnati.

Minutes before Dizon went to the park near 68th Street and Dunham Road in Downers Grove, she dropped off her younger brother, Michael, 14, and younger sister, Emmeline, 16, who also attend Benet Academy, at a dentist’s office. Dizon would often write a journal and the family believes Dizon went to the park to write.

NEVER RETURNED CALL

Emmeline said she kept on calling her sister’s cell phone to pick them up at the dentist’s office but did not return her call.

As they were walking home, Emmeline and Michael noticed ambulances in the park but they had no idea something went wrong with their sister until police knocked on their door.

Dizon’s mother, Marietta, was still in shock when reached by phone by this reporter. She referred this reporter’s call to her husband, Eric Dizon.

Dizon, however, could not find words to describe his grief and turned over the phone to his niece, Cheryl Filipak, a high school teacher of suburban Skokie.

Filipak said she last saw her cousin, Jeannie, alive last Christmas.  When asked what she can make of Jeannie’s death, she said, Jeannie was a “wonderful, smart, beautiful girl. It is very tragic how she had left us but we are all here together and celebrating her memory.”

When asked if she had any premonition of Jeannie dying too soon,  Filipak said, “How can you get this that people have died of lightning? Your family will die this way, something tragic and rare and unique?

When asked what lesson can be learned from the tragedy, Jeannie’s much older cousin said, “Make sure that your loved ones know that you love them and cherish your time you have together.”

70 PEOPLE DIE IN U.S. EACH YEAR FROM LIGHTNING

National Weather Service estimates that some 70 people die from lightning strikes each year and 500 more are injured.

In a statement to the media earlier, Jeannie’s mother, Marietta, said, “Jennie is our angel. She has a golden heart. Whoever has met her, she has surely touched your heart. I think God had called her. We just have to place our whole trust in Him.”

In a statement posted online at Benet Academy, it said,  “The family of Jennie Dizon and her Benet Family greatly appreciate all of the love, prayers, and words of consolation that have been extended to us as we mourn Jennie’s passing.

“Throughout the day, her close friends, classmates, teachers, and the entire school community have had opportunities to recall her many talents, her unique gifts, and her wonderful personality. Through a combination of tears and laughter, we have also shared with one another our recollections of many memorable experiences with Jennie. Most importantly, as people of faith, we have celebrated her entrance into eternal life. Though she was taken from us much too soon, we trust that she is now in God’s loving embrace. May she rest in peace.”

Jennie’s wake will be held at Hallowell & James Funeral Home at 301 75th Street in Downers Grove, IL on Sunday, June 2nd from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. and on Monday, June 3rd from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 4th at St. Scholastica Church at 7800 Janes Avenue in Woodridge, IL.

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PHOTO CAPTION

GRIEVING DIZON FAMILY — Filipino American Jeannie Dizon (extreme left) is being mourned by her family from right, her parents Eric and Marietta Dizon and her siblings, Michael and Emmeline Dizon when family members meet the media Friday, May 31, a day after Jeannie was hit by lightning and died inside the O’Brien Park in their Chicago’s suburban Downers Grove, Illinois. (FAXX/jGLi Photograb from Chicago’s NBC5)

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