By Kim Glovas, Steve Patterson and Diana Rocco
CLIFTON HEIGHTS, Pa. (CBS) – A memorial vigil was held tonight in Clifton Heights (Delaware County), near where a popular young man died over the weekend in an accident. On Monday, his emotional father spoke to Eyewitness News.
Dante DeSimone, 18, of Grammercy Drive in Upper Darby, was killed when two vehicles collided Sunday night on Baltimore Pike near Lehann Circle. One vehicle then went onto the sidewalk and struck DeSimone and his friend, 18-year-old Tim Robison, also of Upper Darby (see related story). Robison was hospitalized in stable condition.
“Right now, I’m kind of numb,” said Ralph DeSimone, Dante’s father.
In one instant, on one night, he lost a son, a friend and a pupil.
“I wish he was here. I’d tell him I love him and how much he meant to me,” Ralph DeSimone said.
Police say DeSimone was a recent graduate of Upper Darby High School and was attending Neumann University, where he played lacrosse, ice hockey, and roller hockey.
“I couldn’t believe it. There’s no reason for this to happen,” Dante’s father told Eyewitness News.
Lifelong friend TJ Kirk said DeSimone was the person everyone wanted to know and the best guy to have around.
“Always had a smile on his face, always had a positive attitude,” Kirk added.
The vigil, organized by teammates and friends of DeSimone, was held at 7:30 p.m. in the Home Depot lot, across the street from McDonald’s at the scene of the accident.
“My son, he was special. He was special to us,” mother Rita DeSimone said.
A mother’s pain felt by an entire Upper Darby and Delco community. Hundreds came to remember the life of the 18-year-old.
“Dante I love you, be proud, I’m so proud of you, look around, all these people are here for you,” his mother said.
“It’s an absolute shock to know that the person that you love so much is here one day and then gone the next,” family friend Shana DeRosa said.
Friends and teammates lit candles and wiped away tears. Dante was captain of his Upper Darby High School hockey team and went to Neumann University to play lacrosse, where they were just getting ready to start their season.
“His ability to connect with people was a great point of difference for him. He had that sort of a gleam in his eye. When you met with him, he engaged you,” Chuck Sack, Athletic Director of Neumann University said.
Dante’s story is one of overcoming adversity. Crippled by a childhood disease, he not only walked again, but became a star athlete and hero to so many.
“He was crippled with a disease in third grade. They tell me my son would never walk. He was the best athlete that anybody could imagine and he did it on his own,” his mother said.
Police say both drivers are cooperating with the police investigation. So far, no charges have been filed.