April 20, 2014

Medina
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Memorial honors Brunswick students killed in crash

BRUNSWICK — A memorial to the four Brunswick High School students who died last year in an early morning crash on the day they were to graduate will be dedicated Thursday at St. Ambrose Catholic Parish.

The four students — Jeffrey Chaya, 18; Blake Bartchak, 17; Lexi Poerner, 16; and Kevin Fox, 18 — were members of St. Ambrose Parish.

A designer’s rendering shows a memorial for four Brunswick High School students who died in a car crash a year ago Monday. The memorial will be dedicated at St. Ambrose Catholic Parish on Thursday. (IMAGE PROVIDED)

Julia Romito, who was 17 and a junior at the time of the crash, was the only survivor. She graduated Sunday.

Following the deaths, hundreds mourned the teenagers and thousands of blue memorial shirts were sold, to raise money for the families’ funeral expenses. The shirts read, “Blue Devils on Earth, Angels Up Above.”

The dedication of the memorial will be 6 p.m. at St. Ambrose, 929 Pearl Road, and will mark the start of the parish’s summer festival.

Jim Tressel, former Ohio State University football coach and administrator at the University of Akron, will attend the dedication.

After the crash, a number of improvements were made to the railroad crossing on Boston Road in Columbia Township, where Chaya lost control of a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier shortly after midnight on June 3.

The improvements included flashing top signs and warning signs of a rough crossing with a recommended speed of 25 mph.

The Ohio Highway Patrol estimated the students’ car was going 69 mph and became airborne on the crossing, which was on a steep incline.

This month, work is expected to begin on leveling the crossing by raising the road on both sides of the tracks.

Federal funds will cover 90 percent of the $450,000 project, and Columbia and Liverpool townships and Medina and Lorain counties will cover the rest.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.