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Mother Stands In At Graduation For Son Killed In Prom Night Crash

05/22/2015 02:26 pm ET | Updated May 22, 2016

(Replaces "innovation" with "ovation" in third paragraph)

CHICAGO, May 22 (Reuters) - A Chicago area woman whose 18-year-old son was killed in an alleged drunk-driving crash after his high-school prom last weekend wore his cap and gown at his graduation in a tribute to him.

Katherine Jackson, mother of Aaron Dunigan, walked across the stage during the ceremony on Wednesday. Along with Dunigan's father, she received a special plaque with his diploma, awards and a graduation ticket.

"She got a standing ovation, a lot of tears, a great deal of cheers," said Dwayne Evans, principal of the school in the south Chicago suburb of Calumet City. "It was mixed joy, happiness, and a lot of sadness."

Dunigan, a quarterback on the school football team, was one of two people killed in the crash. He and another classmate were passengers in a car driven by a third friend and classmate, according to local media reports.

The three were on their way home from prom when the driver crashed into another car. Dunigan and the driver of the other car were both killed. The other passenger was badly injured and attended graduation in a wheelchair, local media reported.

The driver has been charged with driving under the influence causing death and reckless homicide with a motor vehicle.

Evans said Dunigan's mother was one of about 2,000 people attending the ceremony for some 400 graduates.

"It was very strong of her to be willing to do that," he said. "She brought the house down, and she said: 'I think Aaron can hear the cheers from the crowd.'"

Dunigan was preparing to play football for Southern Illinois University in the fall, local media reported. The school said his funeral was scheduled for Saturday. (Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Frances Kerry)

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