You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Community remembers 3 students killed in crash


The mood at Bellbrook High School is somber today as the community mourns the loss of three students killed in a crash early Sunday morning. Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools Superintendent Keith St. Pierre said counselors, psychologists and teachers will be available to talk with grieving students. Attendance appeared to be lower today, he said.“Our thoughts go out to the families, St. Pierre said. “… We feel for them.”

Students, friends and family filled the courtyard in front of Bellbrook High School during a vigil Sunday to remember the young lives lost earlier that day.

Bellbrook High students Julianna Hawk, 14; Sophie Kerrigan, 17; and Skylar Kooken, 16, were riding inside the extended cab of a Dodge pickup truck traveling on Wagner Road near Oleva Drive after midnight when the truck crashed into a tree. The force of the collision uprooted the full-grown tree and buckled and mangled the truck.

Police found Hawk, Kerrigan and Kooken dead inside.

Three more Sugarcreek Twp. residents, two males ages 17 and 18, and a 17-year-old girl were also in the truck. They were taken to area hospitals for their injuries. The girl was riding with the other girls, while the young men were riding up front. The 17-year-old boy was driving the truck, police said.

Police did not release the driver’s name Sunday. Investigators have not stated a reason why the 17-year-old lost control of the truck.

The girl, who was riding in the back seat with the other girls, was still hospitalized Monday. She is listed in serious condition, said Sgt. Mark White with the Sugarcreek Twp. Police Department.

The 17-year-old male driver, who’s name has not been released, has been released from the hospital. An 18-year-old male passenger was listed in stable condition Monday.

“This is a nightmare,” said Julie Kammer at the vigil, where people hugged, cried and cupped their hands around lit candles while signing Amazing Grace. “You don’t take three lives from a community this small without affecting everybody.”

Sunday’s fatal crash was the third fatal traffic crash involving teens in eight days.

Three Greenville teens were killed Oct. 27 in a single-car crash after the driver lost control of the car on Byrkett Road and Barry Drive. Five days later, a Springboro High School student was killed after he lost control of his car and struck a utility pole while driving to school Thursday.

Sunday’s accident was reported to police around 12:41 a.m.

“We have nothing to indicate alcohol was a factor,” said Sgt. Mark White, spokesman for the Sugarcreek Twp. Police Department. Drugs do not appear to be a factor at this time, either, White said.

Under state law, drivers between ages 17 and 18 with a probationary license are banned from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., except for work or some sort of emergency, and can carry non-family passengers as long as there are seat belts for each passenger.

“Once the investigation is done we will sit down with the prosecutor to determine if charges are warranted,” White said.

Police could not confirm whether the driver or passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident.

“The fact is that three kids under the age of 18 (were killed) definitely tugs at the heart strings,” White said. “It’s not something I’d recommend anyone to see.”

News of the crash rippled through the community Sunday. Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local School District Superintendent Keith St. Pierre said this is the first time in his 19 years with the school district that a tragedy of this magnitude has occurred.

He said a crisis committee of counselors and a psychologist will be at the high school Monday to assist students in grief. Teachers will also lend support.

“That is going to take precedent over the lesson of the day. Teachers will be there to comfort and help explain how something like this could happen, if it’s possible to explain how something like this can happen,” St. Pierre said. “Our thought and prayers are with the families of these three girls. We are saddened that this occurred.”

At the vigil, Carley Smith remembered Hawk standing up for her in gym class at Bellbrook Middle School.

“She was so beautiful I thought she was going to be Miss America someday,” Smith said. “That’s how pretty she was.”

Smith and others attending the vigil signed a condolence board. Framed portraits, teddy bears and flowers were sitting against a light pole at the high school. Mourners added to the collection as they passed.

Mike Sabin, pastor of the Wings Christian Fellowship, led the vigil, which included comments from Bellbrook High Principal Chris Baker and the Rev. Stan Gockel, pastor of Bellbrook Presbyterian Church.

“We came out on this cold November night to remember three Bellbrook students who were taken from us and others who were hurt,” he said.

Baker said the school district held the vigil to give the students a place to gather, grieve and support each other.

“It certainly is a tragedy,” Baker said “Our hearts and sympathies go out to the families of these students.”

Some residents, students and friends paid their respects at the crash scene on Wagner Road on Sunday afternoon. Several bouquets of flowers were placed on the tree that had been uprooted in the crash.

Some stared at the tree in disbelief.

Marissa Potter, an 18-year-old Bellbrook High senior, said she didn’t know the crash victims very well, but their deaths were a “wakeup call.”

“I didn’t think it was real,” Potter said. “I just saw them Friday at school. It’s crazy to think someone can be here and then gone just like that.”

Madison Brown, a 17-year-old Bellbrook senior, said she couldn’t believe it when she heard about the crash.

“I didn’t think it was true,” Brown said. “It still doesn’t seem true. It’s horrible.”

Nick Neeley, a 17-year Bellbrook junior, said Kerrigan and Kooken had similar personalities and both loved to listen to music.

Kooken also enjoyed hanging out with friends.

“She was fun to be around,” Neeley said. “She didn’t care what people thought about her. She liked to live in the moment.”

Arthur Huffman, a Bellbrook father said he didn’t know the teens, but wanted to pay his respects.

“It’s a tragedy,” Huffman said. “I have three kids of my own. As a parent, I couldn’t imagine it.”

 

-- Dayton Daily News reporter Amelia Robinson contributed to this report



Next Up in News

Video shows woman kidnapped as infant in Florida joking about getting kidnapped
Video shows woman kidnapped as infant in Florida joking about getting kidnapped

A Facebook live video shows the young woman who was snatched from a Jacksonville hospital as an infant joking about getting kidnapped. In the July 2016 video, she does not hint that she knew she really was a kidnapping victim. Gloria Williams is still in a South Carolina jail cell, accused of kidnapping Kamiyah Mobley as a baby in 1998 and...
Security experts warn about possible violence at inauguration
Security experts warn about possible violence at inauguration

As the nation's security agencies gear up for President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, some experts in the field are warning of the potential for volatility. >> Read more trending stories  "Unlike previous inaugurations in presidential history, this is predicted to be the most volatile," said Ross Bulla, a security...
President Obama welcomes Chicago Cubs to White House
President Obama welcomes Chicago Cubs to White House

For the last time in his tenure as president, Barack Obama welcomed a championship team to the White House. This time it had a special meaning to the outgoing commander-in-chief, as he spent much of his life in Chicago (though he is a White Sox fan). When Obama took to the microphone to address the Cubs fans and legions of reporters, his first words...
Dr. Bernice King: ‘My father would meet with Trump’
Dr. Bernice King: ‘My father would meet with Trump’

As a war of words plays out between President-elect Donald Trump and Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, one is left to wonder what MLK Jr. would have done in the wake of the 2016 election. >> Read more trending stories  Two days before her famous father's birthday, the daughter of the civil rights icon answered that question...
Dems call for county commissioner in Georgia to resign after John Lewis comments
Dems call for county commissioner in Georgia to resign after John Lewis comments

Gwinnett County Commissioner Tommy Hunter waded into controversial territory over the weekend when he wrote a Facebook post calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis -- a civil rights legend already locked in a war of words with President-elect Donald Trump -- a “racist pig.” The reaction to Hunter, a Republican, taking on Lewis a few days before...
More Stories