Tuesday, November 28, 2000

N.Ky. mourns athletes killed in crashes

By Marie McCain and Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jimmy Geiman and Travis Alig were vibrant, selfless teen-agers who shared an intense love of football that spurred each to become a standout player on his high school team. But despite the similarities of their lives, it is the similarities of their deaths that prompts those who knew them to call for increased driver safety.

        Both teens died during the Thanksgiving weekend in one-car crashes along darkened Northern Kentucky roads.

        “Kids don't think something like this can happen to them. But it can. ... We all need to make adjustments in our lives and talk to our children about (wearing seat belts),” said Kyle Hockman, who coached Mr. Alig at Ryle High School in Union.

        Mr. Alig, 18, was killed early Thanksgiving Day when the car he was riding in went off Frogtown Road in Boone County.

        Shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday, Mr. Geiman, a 16-year-old junior at Campbell County High School in Alexandria, was killed a quarter-mile from his home in Cold Spring.

        Officials said Mr. Alig was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the 3:15 a.m. crash. He was pinned underneath the vehicle and died at the scene of internal injuries, said Boone County Coroner Doug Stith.

        The car's driver, Ben Wrobleski, 17, of Dayton, Ky., was not seriously injured, while Mr. Alig's teammate and distant cousin, Travis Grant, 17, suffered head trauma, a broken collarbone and an injury to his shoulder.

        “He's awake, and doctors expect him to recover,” Mr. Hockman said of Mr. Grant. Hospital officials said he was in fair condition.

        More than 2,000 people attended a memorial service for Mr. Alig on Sunday night at Ryle. He had been a quar terback and a running back for the Ryle High team and was voted “most athletic” at the school. He also played shortstop for Ryle's baseball team.

        Because of the severity of Mr. Geiman's crash, officials could not say whether he wore his seat belt. He was alone in the car.

        Wet roads, made slippery by an early morning shower, may have caused him to slide off Poole's Creek Road and into a tree, authorities said.

        “He was a super kid,” said Mike Corson, who coached Mr. Geiman at Campbell County. “He typified the kind of player who never gives up and who, despite his limitations, is willing to take a backseat and when needed play his heart out.”

        He so loved football that in order to improve as a defensive end, he had joined Campbell County's track team.

        Mr. Geiman is survived by: his parents, James A. and Rosanne Ruschman Geiman; a sister, Jill Geiman; a brother, Andy Geiman, all of Cold Spring; grandparents Ray and Rita Wolfzorn Ruschman of Newport; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

        Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Campbell County High School gymnasium in Alexandria. Mass of Christian burial will be 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring. Burial will be at St. Stephen Cemetery in Fort Thomas. The Muehlenkamp-Erschell Fort Thomas Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

        Memorials can be made to the Jimmy A. Geiman Memorial Scholarship Fund, Campbell County High School, 25 W. Lickert Road, Alexandria, KY 41001.

        Tom O'Neill contributed to this story.


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