This Mom Walks for Her Son's Graduation After He Died in a Tragic Car Crash Last Week

by Alex Ungerman 3:54 PM PDT, May 21, 2015
Photo: NBC Chicago

This is heartbreaking.

After the tragic death of a high school student, football player and prom king, one week before graduation, his mother walked to accept his diploma Wednesday.

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Aaron Dunigan, an 18-year-old senior at Illinois' Thornton Fractional North High School, was killed in a car accident early Saturday morning, when a car he was riding in went over a median and crashed into another car, reports NBC Chicago. Aaron and the driver of the other car, 56-year-old Juan Jose Rivera were the two casualties of the accident.

Photo: NBC Chicago

The driver in Aaron's car, David Peden, was charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI resulting in death. Another teen passenger in the car, Mike Crowter, survived with serious injuries.

Aaron's mom, Katherine Jackson -- who never graduated herself -- opened up to NBC Chicago on her decision to walk for her late son.

"[Aaron] knows his mom never walked the stage," Katherine said. "I'm going to be his legs and he’s going to be my wings and we're going to go up there and get our diploma."

Watch NBC Chicago's video for more.

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Aaron was supposed to play football at Southern Illinois University in the fall.

In an incredibly touching moment, Katherine hugged Aaron's injured friend, who showed up to graduation in a wheelchair, as the two fought back tears from their eyes.

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Photo: NBC Chicago

"Don't be sorry baby," Katherine consoled Mike. "Don't cry, this is a good day."

"Everybody loves my baby," said Katherine. "He was the most awesome kid and the best gift a mother could ever have."

Remarkably, Katherine says she does not blame the driver who has been charged in Aaron's death.

"I want to hold him and let him know that Aaron loves him too," she said. "It's nobody's fault."

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"This has to be a moment of celebration and learning," said district superintendent Creg Williams during the event. "Let their incident not be in vain. Be safe."

Our thoughts are with Katherine, and everyone mourning the victims in this tragedy.

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