Lisle art student killed in hit-and-run by driver who was allegedly released on bail for impaired driving

A previous version gave incorrect information about who created the GoFundMe account.

Kaylee Gansberg loved art and she thought, until recently, that she could make a living as a graphic artist.

But while studying fine art — specifically photography — at Western Michigan University, Lisle’s wife decided otherwise.

“I realized that I’m a tangible artist and can’t sit behind a computer making art,” she told her mother, Michelle.

She was working on a painting on Friday evening which will be her last.

Gansberg was hit by a car around 2:30 a.m. Saturday in Kalamazoo, Michigan, near the university. The driver of that car was out on bail for a DUI the previous week, a prosecutor told his parents.

Kaylee, 21, died Sunday morning. She was due to start her senior year on Wednesday.

“She was so excited to see what this year was going to hold for her,” Michelle Gansberg said.

Kaylee was crossing a dual carriageway when she was hit. The driver left the scene, according to Kalamazoo police, but was arrested shortly after. According to the police, he is 22 years old. He is in custody but has not yet been charged or identified as the Kalamazoo County District Attorney awaits blood alcohol test results.


“Our daughter was just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person,” Gansberg’s father Keith said.

His parents said a prosecutor told them the man was out on bail for impaired driving the previous week and for another felony within the past month. His family wants to know how he was able to drive.

“What happened took our incredibly beautiful daughter and left hardship in her wake,” Keith Gansberg said. “How could the justice system think it was okay to let him out without making sure he wouldn’t get behind the wheel?”

While waiting for answers, the Gansbergs remember those traits that made their daughter special.

“We were very lucky,” Michelle said. She recalled that even in kindergarten, Kaylee had an artistic flair. She arranged a variety of colorful hair clips to look like a crown for the first day of class, her mother said.

She loved art so much that in first and second grade, she studied during the summers with her school‘s art teacher.

At Lisle High School, which she graduated from in 2019, she sampled activities including track and cheerleading, and she was a member of the National Honor Society. She was in an honors program at WMU and belonged to the Chi Omega sorority.

And Kaylee loved college so much she was willing to endure its winters—colder than the ones she hated in Illinois.

“There was no way she was staying in the Midwest,” Michelle Gansberg said with a laugh.

Over the summer, Kaylee interned with a commercial photographer, while also working at a Kalamazoo golf club.

Two of her cousins, Anielle and Aria DeBenny, opened a account, with donations going to her family to help pay for school fees, hospital bills and other expenses. The inhabitants of Lisle wrap white ribbons around the trees. A candlelight vigil will be held Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Lisle Community Park.

Besides his parents, Gansberg is survived by his brother, Alex; two grandmothers; an aunt; and several cousins.

A wake will be held from 3-8 p.m. Sunday, with a memorial service at 6 p.m. at Adams-Winterfield and Sullivan Funeral Home in Downers Grove.

Kayleen C. Rice