Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Residents say more may die on Kirchling

Boys' deaths heighten fears

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ROSS TOWNSHIP — Police increased their patrols Monday along the hilly portion of a Butler County road where two high school students died in a fiery crash last week.

        Both Ross Township officials and Butler County sheriff's deputies said the increased attention is in response to the deaths of the students and to the opening of schools today in Ross Township.

        But some residents along Kirchling Road in southwest Butler County said bolder steps need to be taken or more will die along the rural stretch of road, used by many local teens going to and from school.

        “I'm just waiting for the next "boom,'” said longtime Kirchling Road resident Ray Lutz, who heard Friday's crash that claimed the lives of Ross High School senior Adam Brinkman and junior Scott King Jr. as they sped along the rural road after a morning football practice.

        The two football teammates died when Adam lost control of his car going over a steep hill on Kirchling Road while traveling about 70 mph in a 45-mph zone, police said. The car crashed into a tree and caught fire.

        Adam and Scott died at the scene. The Butler County Coroner's Office said Monday that Scott died of head trauma from the crash; the cause of Adam's death has not been determined. Passenger Kyle Herald, a senior, escaped from the car with minor injuries.

        Mr. Lutz said local teens and adults have long used the roller coaster stretch of road to “launch” their cars over the tops of hills.

        “It's a dangerous road and it's an accident waiting to happen again,” Mr. Lutz said.

        He welcomes the increased police patrols but stressed that more needs to be done, whether that be a lowered speed limit or the installation of stop signs or speed bumps.

        The road lies in an unincorporated area and is the responsibility of Ross Township, which contracted with the Butler County Engineer's Department to repave and widen the road to 18 feet in 1993.

        In 1994 township trustees received permission from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to lower the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph, said Chris Petrocy, spokesman for the county engineer.

        Ross Township Trustee David Young said smoothing out the hills on the lightly traveled road would cost millions of dollars and is not feasible.

        Mr. Young, a former Green Township life squad member who said he has worked on numerous deadly car accidents involving teens, said he is sympathetic toward the Kirchling Road accident victims, but there is little that can be done to make the road safer.

        Speed bumps are not allowed on such roads, he said, and would become a hazard to motorists and snow plows in snowy conditions. Stop signs and warning lights would likely be ignored by any teen bent on launching his car off the tops of the road's hills.

        “Young people and their cars, they make mistakes. It's a sad and horrible thing. All the precautions and safety signs could be there ... but if people don't use the privilege of driving to drive safe ... what can we do?” Mr. Young said.

        Ron Dudley, another longtime resident of Kirchling Road, agreed, saying, “I think they have done what they can do.”

        Mr. Dudley said he welcomes the extra police patrols but isn't optimistic about their long-term impact.

        “Lowering the speed might help but it's human nature that these kids will look for thrills. The road is like a roller-coaster ride,” he said.

        Ross High School will observe a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day in memory of Adam and Scott, said David McWilliams, superintendent of the Ross Local Schools.

        Counselors and members of the clergy will be at the school to provide assistance and support. Counselors also will be available at the boys' visitations and funerals.

        Visitation for Adam Brinkman will be held 5-8 p.m. today at Brown & Dawson Funeral Home, 330 Pershing Ave., Hamilton. A Mass of Christian burial will follow at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Queen of Peace Church, 2550 Millville Road, Hanover Township. A graveside service will follow at St. Stephen's Ceme tery.

        Visitation for Scott King Jr. will be 1-3 p.m. Wednesday at Brown & Dawson. A funeral service will follow at 3 p.m. The school district will provide bus service to and from Adam's funeral mass Wednesday morning and Scott's visitation that afternoon. To ride the bus, students will need a written note from their parents. Students who travel to either in private cars will also need written permission from their parents.

        Sue Kiesewetter contributed to this report.


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