Kenton Ridge grad who died in crash honored with road designation

Caitlin Preston’s mother believes improved safety on Route 72 is lasting legacy to her daughter.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The Ohio House of Representatives passed a resolution Wednesday to rename a portion of road in Greene County after a Kenton Ridge High School graduate who died in 2019.

House Bill 75, passed 72-0, honors Caitlin Preston, an 18-year-old who died in a head-on collision with a semi-truck in May 2019 shortly after graduating Kenton Ridge.

The crash, which occurred on state Route 72 in between Clifton and Cedarville, spurred the state to widen the narrow stretch of highway — an outcome that Shirley Preston, Caitlin’s mother, views as a lasting legacy.

“This road has been known to be unsafe for semis for many years. Local highway patrol has responded to and reported to their superiors of this unusually high amount of accidents and fatalities on this road for years with no action; but finally, due to Caitlin’s death, action is finally being taken,” Preston said in an emotional testimony in March. “This road is now widened (with) a shoulder put on the road and made safer for the large amount of semi trailer traffic.”

“She was the only child I had. She was my life, my breath. I’m thankful you guys are going to work on getting that road fixed so no one else gets hurt and honor her,” Preston said.

The mother acknowledged lawmakers traditionally only name roads after first responder or military member who has given their live in service to their country or community.

Caitlin Preston wanted to go into law enforcement and forensics work.

Like a first responder, like a service member, Shirley Preston told lawmakers, “Caitlin has given her life to make this road safer,” and she said her daughter’s sacrifice will save others.

Reps. Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, and Bill Dean, R-Xenia, who sponsored the “Caitlin Renee Preston Memorial Highway” bill, told the House floor that Caitlin was a bowling recruit committed to attend Tiffin University and study forensic science.

“Caitlin left a tremendous legacy during her time on this side of heaven, and it is our duty to keep her memory alive for many years to come,” said Dean. “This highway is more than just a stretch of road — it is an enduring reminder of Caitlin’s brief but impactful life in western Ohio.”

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