Thursday, January 23, 2003

Faces of lives lost to help save others

Ad shows four killed in crash

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] This billboard, showing the four Goshen Township teens who died last year, is intended to make drivers think.
| ZOOM |
GOSHEN TWP. - The Ohio State Highway Patrol and parents of teenagers killed in a crash on Ohio 28 in Clinton County have teamed up in an effort to prevent other motorist deaths.

A billboard, which acts both as a memorial to the four Goshen High School students and a warning to motorists, has been erected at the Goshen Township border in Clermont County.

Appeals for motorists to slow down and use seat belts flank the smiling faces of Jennifer McRoberts, 16; Jessie King, 16; Natasha Schnelle, 17; and Lester Smith, 16, along with a photo of the crumbled car the four were riding in.

Kathy McRoberts, mother of Jennifer, says educating others about the dangers of irresponsible driving gives some semblance of meaning to her daughter's death and the deaths of the other three students.

Parents, she says, can help their children learn to be safe drivers, but also how to be safe passengers.

"You can teach your children everything in the world about driving, but you also need to teach them about riding with other people," she says.

"They need to know about who they are riding with and how they are and what they've been doing."

The four teens were among six Goshen High students on their way to Monroe Falls for a swim last August. The four in the back seat were not wearing seat belts and were killed.

Lt. Paul Hermes, commander of the Batavia post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, worked with the parents to get the billboard in place.

"This partnership was developed ... in the hopes that other drivers will think about the message as they are driving," he says.

The billboard will remain at its location for two months.

"We hope to display this message on additional billboards and with posters throughout the year," Lt. Hermes says.

Using a seat belt can reduce the chance of dying in an accident by 45 percent, he said.


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