Friday, May 30, 2003

Goshen fatality revives pain

School somber after 5th death

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

GOSHEN TOWNSHIP - As word spread Wednesday evening about the car accident that killed a fifth Goshen High School student in less than a year, Kathy McRoberts got on the phone to three other women in this Clermont County community.

They are the mothers of four other Goshen students, killed last year in a single car accident in Clinton County. They comforted each other as memories of the worst time of their lives resurfaced.

"It just brought it all back. I feel for his family - we all wish to express to them our deepest sympathies," McRoberts said Thursday of Randall "Johnny" Wegenhart. "We know what it feels like to lose a child."

Wegenhart, a 17-year-old Goshen junior, died Wednesday after losing control of his 1985 Nissan as it rounded a curve in a residential area along Ohio 48 between Ohio 132 and Ohio 28.

Wegenhart's car went off the road shortly after 4 p.m. and struck a tree. Investigators said there were no skid marks, but they believed the car was going faster than the 45 mph limit.

Wegenhart wore no seat belt, officials added.

Grief counselors were at the school Thursday, offering an ear to any student who wished to talk.

The mood of the school Thursday was somber, said Goshen School District Superintendent Charlene Thomas. Several students live near the crash and went to the scene soon after it happened.

The crash rubs salt in wounds that are far from healed.

It came a day before a scheduled court appearance by the teen who drove the car in the crash last August that killed McRoberts' 16-year-old daughter, Jennifer, and friends Jessie King, 16; Natasha Schnelle, 17; and Lester Smith, 16.

The four teens died Aug. 12 when the speeding car they were riding in spun out of control and struck a fencepost and a tree. They were in the back without seat belts.

The driver and a front-seat passenger were belted in.

The driver, a 17-year-old Goshen resident who is still enrolled in the high school, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of speeding and driving under a suspended license. She'll be sentenced July 14.

The front-seat passenger, a 17-year-old Loveland boy, is charged with four counts of reckless homicide for allegedly jerking the car's steering wheel and causing the crash. His trial will be July 21.


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