Sheila Khalili, a 27-year-old Olivet Nazarene University nursing student, disappeared last Friday, 5 May, after leaving campus for the summer. Her car was discovered Thursday morning in a retention pond near Interstate 57 with Khalili inside.
"The university learned Thursday morning from the family and local authorities that Sheila's car was found just north of Bourbonnais and that Sheila was in the car, having passed away," Olivet said in a statement. "The university community is shocked and deeply saddened by this news. Our hearts go out to the family. The ONU family is surrounding Sheila's family, friends, and Sheila's nursing faculty with our thoughts and prayers.
"We grieve the loss of such a bright young student whose warm heart and passion for serving others was so evident in her life. We are continuing to pray for her family and friends."
The Kankakee Daily Journal reported Khalili was driving southbound on I-57 when she crossed the median and drove into a retention pond off the northbound side. The Illinois State Police are investigating the incident as a single vehicle fatal traffic accident.
"The family of Sheila Khalili extends their deepest thanks to the efforts of law enforcement, the media, Olivet Nazarene University, as well as the many friends and relatives that contributed their time and efforts to the search for the recovery of Sheila," the family said in a prepared statement.
"The location of the car and the recovery of Sheila's body gives the family closure and they understand that without the help of law enforcement, the media, and the public, they would never have closure in her disappearance."
Khalili was scheduled to graduate from the nursing program in December.
"She's just been our rock," classmate Kadie Nicely told the Chicago Tribune. "There's only 25 of us in our program, and we're such a close family. We know God has with her. She became a nurse today. She's up there looking down on us. She touched so many lives here and her patients. We know she's going to be with us, and she'll be walking across the stage with us in December, we have no doubt."