Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Friends of crash victims trying to copy with tragedy

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Friends and relatives are still trying to come to terms with a weekend Indiana crash that killed two White Oak teens.

        It was a split-second tragedy, but for the teens in a second car who witnessed it, time has crawled ever since.

        “It has been very traumatic,” said Linda DiTullio, whose son, Alex, was in the car behind the Acura Integra driven by 18-year-old Colerain High graduate Bradley Ranz.

        Like the two teens who were killed — passengers James “Eric” Harris and James Schoenlaub, both of White Oak — Alex graduated from LaSalle High School in May.

        The 10 teens in both cars were on their way to a graduation party given by another LaSalle grad.

        The Cincinnati Enquirer's revelation Tuesday that Mr. Ranz's license had been suspended for numerous driving violations prompted about a dozen phone calls to the newsroom, and also was a topic on Cincinnati talk radio.

        Several of the five teens in the second car, which was following Mr. Ranz's car as it pulled onto U.S. 52 near Brookville, Ind., into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer, spent Tuesday making crosses to be placed at the crash site.

        “Brad's parents are heartbroken, not just for their son, but for the other boys,” said their attorney, Jack Scott. “They're just devastated.”

        Mr. Ranz and a passenger, David Kaiser, 18, remained in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Good news emerged from Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, where Mr. Ranz's fourth passenger, Eric Giordano, 17, was upgraded Tuesday to fair condition.

        “They were all good friends, and good young men,” Mrs. DiTullio said Tuesday, echoing what several others parents said. “They're still in shock.”

        That impact played out again Tuesday night as students gathered for a memorial at LaSalle, but it was heightened earlier in the day when they read an account by Franklin County Sheriff Eldon Cornelius with which they disagreed.

        Sheriff Cornelius said preliminary indications are that Mr. Ranz did not stop at the stop sign at Ind. 1 and U.S. 52, and that teens in the second car substantiated that claim made by the driver of the semi, James Hill, 38, of Sunman, Ind.

        “They say he did stop,” Mrs. DiTullio said.


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