Two children were killed in a traffic crash involving a semi and an SUV on Thursday night in Whitewater. Family told TODAY'S TMJ4 they were cousins.
The Walworth County Sheriff's Office identified them as 14-year-old Kaylinn Wilken of Waterford and 7-year-old Olly Koelsch of Boise, Idaho.
It happened about 7:30 p.m. at Highway 12 and Walworth Avenue. The Sheriff's Office said the girls were in an SUV that turned into the path of a semi, resulting in a crash.
Kaylinn's mom, Kristina, who was driving the SUV, was injured and taken to the hospital, along with her uncle, Michael, who was in the front passenger seat.
In the backseat with Kaylinn and Olly was Olly's twin sister, who is recovering from injuries.
The driver of the semi was not hurt.
Kaylinn just graduated from Fox River Middle School in Waterford and was about to start high school in a few weeks.
Lily Hinners is still processing the news.
"It's a lot to take in at once," Hinners said. "She was a good friend to me. She was probably the first friend I had in elementary school, and it's just really shocking what happened."
Sharon Smolensky watched Kaylinn grow up with her granddaughter, Lily, on her horse ranch, Dover Stables, where Kaylinn's mom used to board a horse.
"It's still hard for me to believe that it's just over," Sharon said. "She was just a little spitfire but full of energy."
An adventurous girl, Kaylinn loved gymnastics and hunting. She took her skills far as a member of a trap shooting club.
"They would go on weekend trips and tournaments and competition, and she did very well," Sharon said.
What's unbearable to think about is the whole life that Kaylinn had ahead of her.
"It's just so sad. She had so much potential. She was just a wonderful person, a wonderful little girl," Sharon said.
"It's a lot to take in at once. She was a good friend to me. She was probably the first friend I had in elementary school, and it's just really shocking what happened." — Lily Hinners, who grew up with Kaylinn Wilken
"She was really into like veterinary stuff, so she probably would have helped animals a lot," Lily said.
However, they want Kaylinn's family to know the community will be here for them.
"It will take time and the pain will never go away, but I hope that they lean on each other and their friends," Sharon said.
The Waterford School District released the following statement about the incident:
"On behalf of the Waterford Graded School District, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wilken and Koelsch families at this incredibly sad time."