‘Cool’ vehicles needed to participate in funeral procession for Tampico teen

Jayden Hanson loved anything on wheels, including farm equipment, his uncle says

A roadside memorial is seen Friday, March 29, 2024, at the site where three Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico High School/Middle School students were killed in a crash at the corner of Luther and Hahnaman roads.

PROPHETSTOWN — Jayden Hanson loved anything on wheels – race cars, dirt bikes, four-wheelers, trucks, tractors, you name it.

The 14-year-old also loved anything to do with farming, especially all things John Deere.

“You’d be struggling to find somebody bigger into farming. That was his purpose in life, I’d guess you’d say,” his uncle Chad Anderson said Sunday.

To honor that boisterous, infectious love that was so much a part of Jayden’s life, Anderson is organizing a procession of vehicles after his funeral Thursday at Prophetstown United Methodist Church.

Jayden was one of three boys killed March 28 when the pickup truck they were riding in was hit by a semi at the intersection of Hahnaman and Luther roads in Tampico, a village of fewer than 800 people, where they lived.

Also lost in the collision were Channing Swertfeger, 14, and Douglas “DJ” Dorathy, 16, all three Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico High School/Middle School students. Channing was an eighth-grader.

Jayden’s dad, Austin Hanson, is a crew member for his best friend, Sterling race car driver Dustin Schram, and while not farmers themselves, the Hansons come from farmers, and Austin still helps out in the local farming community, Anderson said.

Jayden always was by his dad’s side, so racing and farming was the life he grew up in, a life he loved.

All the area farmers knew him, Anderson said, and Jayden, a freshman, belonged to Prophetstown High School’s FFA club.

Anderson is asking anyone who can “to show up Thursday with all the cool stuff” at Birkey’s Farm Store, 200 North St., where store manager Jay Von Holten will have cleared the lot to allow those joining the procession to park, unload their vehicles and get organized.

Hundreds are expected, so participants should show up well before 10 a.m.

The vehicles will travel over to the church, and then head to Riverside Cemetery after the 10 a.m. service, about 11 a.m., when Jayden will arrive, driven by his dad, Anderson said.

Prophetstown police and fire will be involved, with blocks around the church and along the route to the cemetery blocked off, along Second Street and Star Road, as needed.

A memorial service for the three boys was held Sunday at Tampico Village Hall, 202 W. Second St.

Visitation for DJ, a sophomore, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Garland Funeral Home in Tampico, with graveside services at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Mary Cemetery.

Visitation for Channing and Jayden will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Prophetstown Middle School. Channing’s funeral service the next day is private.

For the full obituaries of the boys, and to send condolences, visit garlandfuneralhomes.com.

The pickup was northbound on Luther shortly before 1 p.m. when it failed to stop and was struck by the eastbound semi, Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker said.

The driver of the pickup, another PLT high school boy who was not identified, was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening, Booker said. The semi driver, a Whiteside County man who also was not identified, was not injured.

The investigation is ongoing and no citations were issued.

“As can be expected, although not seriously physically injured, the boy who was driving the pickup is in a bad way, and can’t at the moment see that the miracle of his survival should be celebrated, and gives hope to us all,” Anderson said.

“If there’s anything that I would want to say to him, and I feel I can speak for all of our families, if there’s anything that that young man can do, it’s live,” Anderson said. “You were the one who survived, and now you have to live, for your friends.”

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.