Five years later: family and friends come together to remember Bobby Figinsky
On October 15, 2017, 13-year-old Macayla Wilson was walking alongside her friend Bobby Figinsky on Hononegah Road when a truck struck both of them. Macayla was injured and still had ongoing back and neck issues afterward. But as a result of his injuries, Bobby Figinsky died that night. The driver never received a ticket. Since the night of the accident, Bobby’s mother Jenessa has sought justice for her son.
Five years later, family and friends came together to remember the life of a young man who was an eighth grader at Roscoe Middle School at the time of the accident.
On Saturday evening, Oct. 15, 2022, two rooms were filled with supporters of the Figinsky family at the Pizza Ranch in Roscoe. Some wore sweatshirts with photos of Bobby on the front while others wore t-shirts with the words, “Justice for Bobby” and the dates "March 1, 2004 – October 15, 2017" on the back of the shirt - on the front are the words, “We Believe” surrounding a photo of an alien with Bobby's name under it. (Bobby loved space aliens.)
Bobby's mother Jenessa decorated the area with a green alien backdrop, and a sign marking his birth to death, all surrounding the custom-made cross that stood in memory of Bobby.
After eating and reconnecting, supporters went to the site of the accident for a vigil. Everyone held a green-colored candle as they honored Bobby's memory.
Jenessa Figinsky's brother-in-law Mike had created the cross. Jenessa has now successfully transported the cross to her new home out of state.
“The cross has held up for the past five years in the sun and the weather. I am going to restore it to the best of my abilities so I can keep it for years to come,” she shares.
The family decided to relocate the cross because they had moved out of state and were unable to maintain the cross in Roscoe.
Bobby would have graduated in May from Hononegah High School in the Class of 2022. What would have been his graduation gown sat on the cross, and was surrounded by purple and a lighter golden-yellow shade of flowers.
Bobby loved spending time with friends, family and being outdoors. Bobby was known for being creative, and his love of music, art and science. He had a special place in his heart for his cat Simon.
Over the years, supporters of the Figinsky family have honored Bobby through “Lighting it Up Green.”
All over the Stateline and beyond, houses and businesses remembered Bobby by putting up green lights. This show of support has spanned several states including Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina.
In 2021, Bobby's mother Jenessa Figinsky and Macayla's mother Corin Mertz teamed up to put a powerful message on a billboard on Highway 251. A photo of the two young friends, Bobby and Macayla, was in the bottom right hand corner. The words in all-capital letters said, “HIT A PARKED CAR? TICKET. HIT TWO CHILDREN? NOTHING. SHAME ON YOU, WINNEBAGO COUNTY!" The billboard referred viewers to a Facebook page JusticeforBobby, followed by the words, “paid for by Corin Mertz.”
No charges were filed against the driver. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for reckless homicide and vehicular manslaughter is 18 months. The fight for justice continued until this time ran out. “I would like to thank everyone for their continued support,” Jenessa said.
Editor's note: A representative of the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office told the Rockford Register Star that they found no evidence that the driver of the truck was guilty of any crime. "This fatal crash was an unfortunate accident," said Marilyn Hite Ross of the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office, though the parents still disagree that the case was handled correctly.
A Roscoe Township trustee came to Saturday night's event and informed the family that they have planted a sunset maple tree in Bobby's memory. It will be dedicated at the next meeting of the Roscoe Township board.
“I would like to thank all of the workers who have been doing construction at the Community Center for being so respectful of the cross and for letting us keep it there. They never once complained or asked us to take it down,” Jenessa added.
The next steps for the Figinsky family will be a fundraiser to place a memorial bench, at the request of Bobby's friends, at the community center by the Robert Cross Homestead.
One of Bobby's close friends was A.J. Miller. “It is crazy how you can go years without seeing your friends and when you see them again, it seems like our friendship didn't skip a beat,” Miller said. “I had an amazing time on Saturday night with my friends from middle school. Thank you, Jenessa Figinsky, for making it possible for all of us to see each other again. We had a blast.”
Keeping Bobby Figinsky's memory alive remains most important to Bobby's mother Jenessa, his father Bob, his brother Billy, and extended family and friends.