Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU graduate student killed in Wisconsin car crash

Northwestern graduate student Leonel Macario Hernandez-Reyna was killed Dec. 28 in a car accident while driving through Bellevue, Wis.

Hernandez-Reyna, 30, was the passenger in a car being driven by Christopher Wahle, also a NU graduate student, to Green Bay, Wis., applied mathematics Prof. Alvin Bayliss said.

“The weather conditions changed abruptly,” Bayliss said. “All of a sudden it became very icy and foggy.”

Wahle, who survived the accident, cannot recall many of the details of what happened right before the crash, Bayliss said.

Pablo Gomez, Graduate School ’02, who met Hernandez-Reyna about seven years ago, said he died instantly after the car skidded out of control and hit a concrete barrier.

Gomez, a DePaul University professor, said the family of Hernandez-Reyna, who live in Mexico City, asked him to work with Bayliss to send Hernandez-Reyna’s personal belongings home.

“(His family) is, of course, devastated,” Gomez said. “But they have tremendous strength.”

Bayliss said he was arranging a memorial service on the Evanston Campus with the family, whom he first contacted Dec. 30 with the help of a college friend of Hernandez-Reyna’s also living in Mexico City.

“There was some problem with communication, because I don’t speak Spanish,” Bayliss said. “Fortunately they had the friend there. … I communicated through her.”

Memorial services tentatively will be held Thursday in the engineering sciences and applied mathematics conference room at the Technological Institute, Bayliss said, though the plans are not final.

Calling Hernandez-Reyna a hard worker, Bayliss said the department was “totally devastated” by the death.

“Everybody liked him,” he said. “He had a wide circle of friends both within the department and outside the department.”

In addition to his studies, Hernandez-Reyna was serving as teaching assistant during Fall Quarter for a class that was part of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program, led by engineering sciences and applied mathematics Prof. Hermann Riecke.

“He taught in the discussion section where there were students from quite a few different departments and quite a few different … backgrounds,” Riecke said.

Although he never observed any of Hernandez-Reyna’s sections, Riecke said Hernandez-Reyna did a fine job.

Gomez described Hernandez-Reyna as a very generous person who was always willing to help out a friend.

“He was genuinely a very nice guy,” Gomez said. “He always knew a good movie to go see or a good book to read. … He knew what was relevant.”

Hernandez-Reyna also was deeply involved with NU’s Hispanic and Latino community, said Gomez, who hosted a WNUR-FM (89.3) radio show with Hernandez-Reyna while they were graduate students together.

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NU graduate student killed in Wisconsin car crash