Graduation Day Tragedy Leaves Town Reeling - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Graduation Day Tragedy Leaves Town Reeling

CINCINNATI (AP) - A car carrying five teenagers went airborne as it sped over railroad tracks in northeast Ohio early Sunday and crashed, killing the 18-year-old driver hours before his high school graduation and two of his passengers, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

The other two passengers, one of them also an impending graduate, were hospitalized.

Less than 13 hours after the crash, Brunswick High School students left empty seats covered with flowers at their graduation ceremony to remember driver Jeffrey Chaya and Kevin Fox, who was critically injured.

"It was very sad," Superintendent Michael Mayell said after the commencement ceremony at the University of Akron. "There were a lot of tears."

The 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier was traveling at a high speed just after midnight when Chaya lost control in Columbia Township, troopers at the Elyria post said. The car went airborne and off the right side of the roadway, then swerved across the left side of the road, hit a ditch and tree, then flipped over, according to the troopers' report.

Chaya, a senior football player, and two passengers, 17-year-old Blake Bartchak and 16-year-old Lexi Poerner, were killed, the patrol said.

Fox, a back-seat passenger, was thrown from the car into a ditch, troopers said. He was flown to Cleveland Metro Health Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. Fox, 18, also was scheduled to graduate Sunday.

The fifth person in the car, identified by troopers as 17-year-old Julia Romito, was taken to Southwest General Hospital, which wouldn't release information on her.

Fox and Chaya were called during the commencement, which included a moment of silence and comments about the tragic accident, Mayell said. More than 600 students graduated Sunday.

Grief counselors were available to meet with students at the high school later in the day. Memorial services were held Sunday evening at a church and a performing arts center.

"We want to allow the families to grieve in peace, and do whatever we can to get through this very tragic situation," Mayell said.

Troopers were still investigating the crash Sunday. They said the only confirmed factor was unsafe speed, although they were still calculating the car's estimated speed.

Mayell has known Poerner's family for years, and said the students who were killed were well known at school, taking part in school activities and volunteering.

"They were very popular students, very well-liked," Mayell said.

"We've always been a very tight-knit community," he said. "It's one of those things that happens that I just don't get."

Chaya, a wide receiver on the Brunswick High football team, had posted Saturday on his Twitter account: "Weird to think graduation is tomorrow time does fly big time."

On Saturday, graduating seniors at another northeast Ohio high school wore special red and black ribbons as a sign of unity and remembrance in the aftermath of the Feb. 27 Chardon school shootings that killed three students and wounded two others.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Spokane woman recovering from broken pelvis after purse snatching

    Spokane woman recovering from broken pelvis after purse snatching

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 1:51 AM EST2018-02-20 06:51:43 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane woman is speaking out after she was dragged about 20 feet by a car, and nearly run over, after purse snatching. Kathy Kohlieber broke her pelvis and had to be sent to Multicare Valley Hospital. She’s been there since the incident Saturday evening around 5 p.m. Kathy says she went to Walmart, “to get a bag of Cosmos caramel corn, which is so good.”

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane woman is speaking out after she was dragged about 20 feet by a car, and nearly run over, after purse snatching. Kathy Kohlieber broke her pelvis and had to be sent to Multicare Valley Hospital. She’s been there since the incident Saturday evening around 5 p.m. Kathy says she went to Walmart, “to get a bag of Cosmos caramel corn, which is so good.”

    >>
  • Fergie responds to social media backlash over National Anthem performance

    Fergie responds to social media backlash over National Anthem performance

    Monday, February 19 2018 6:36 PM EST2018-02-19 23:36:00 GMT

    LOS ANGELES - The internet was not having any of Fergie's performance of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the NBA All-Star game Sunday night. The hashtag #fergienationalanthem began trending immediately after the Black Eyed Peas star took the microphone, with many shocked and appalled by her slow, jazzy rendition of the anthem.

    >>

    LOS ANGELES - The internet was not having any of Fergie's performance of the "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the NBA All-Star game Sunday night. The hashtag #fergienationalanthem began trending immediately after the Black Eyed Peas star took the microphone, with many shocked and appalled by her slow, jazzy rendition of the anthem.

    >>
  • Pullman psychologist charged with rape found dead in jail cell

    Pullman psychologist charged with rape found dead in jail cell

    Monday, February 19 2018 4:34 PM EST2018-02-19 21:34:28 GMT

    PULLMAN, Wash. - Pullman Police say the psychologist accused of raping a patient during a treatment session in January was found dead in his jail cell Sunday night. Police say a woman reported that psychologist Dean Funabiki, PhD, sexually assault her during a therapy session in his office.

    >>

    PULLMAN, Wash. - Pullman Police say the psychologist accused of raping a patient during a treatment session in January was found dead in his jail cell Sunday night. Police say a woman reported that psychologist Dean Funabiki, PhD, sexually assault her during a therapy session in his office.

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/