'Someone who never quit': Des Plaines man dies a month after motorcycle crash
In high school, Dylan Arends found two loves: football and cars.
"Dylan really liked working on cars, and he was in the automotive classes at school," Filip Libera said. "He would help me out with my car all the time."
Libera became friends with Arends when they were freshmen on the football team at Maine West. They played football for four years together, graduating in 2015, and stayed good friends over the years.
But in early June, Libera woke up to terrible news on Facebook: Arends' father posted that his son had been in a terrible motorcycle accident at 11:30 p.m. June 7 at 1000 E. Northwest Highway in Des Plaines.
Arends, just 22, died Saturday afternoon. He had been at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge in a medically induced coma.
"It's devastating news," said Libera, who was unable to visit Arends in the hospital due to COVID-19. "This isn't like losing a friend, it's like losing a brother. Dylan had a contagious smile, he was really funny, and his laugh would light up a room. He was just great to have around and he would always brighten the mood. We've always been close friends since football in high school.
"The progress he made from freshman year to starting varsity as a senior was really motivating to his teammates. Dylan was really dedicated to football and getting better. I remember senior year against Proviso East, Dylan made a couple of major sacks. I think he still has those on his Hudl film."
Arends was a defensive end for the Warriors. He stood 6-foot-1, weighed 185 pounds and was a senior in the 2014 season, the first at Maine West for former head coach Jason Kradman.
Kradman recently became the new head coach at Lake Park High School in Roselle.
"Dylan always had a smile on his face and he was always excited to be at practice and competing and being around his buddies. Pretty much all of his friends were on the team," Kradman said. "He made some really big plays for us his senior year.
"We didn't win a lot of games that year. We were 2-7. But Dylan was always someone who never quit and he would always fight to the end. I think that's what he was doing. He was fighting for his life."
Kradman says that Arends was accepted to Western Illinois and attended school there for a while before returning to work in the area. Arends had been a trainer at Orange Theory for a short time and was trying to get into real estate.
But his true love was for cars and his motorcycle.
"He had a passion for his car, and he was rebuilding this Lexus. It was his dream car," Libera said. "He even went to Texas recently to be in this program about rebuilding cars. He passed the program and came back here and was really excited to keep working on his car.
"He spent a lot of time in his garage with his dad working on his car."
Libera says that Arends' family is not planning a funeral at this time but will instead have a celebration of his life at their home. There is also going to be a "car meet cruise," which is tentatively being planned for the weekend of July 25. It will be a drive in the area by friends and family in Arends' honor.
"I am just devastated," Libera said. "He was a great guy and had the biggest heart. I'm going to miss seeing him. He's gone too soon."