Friday, September 17, 2004

Once again, teens mourn
loss of peer to car wreck

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

Visitation: Sunday from 2-5 p.m. at E.C. Nurre Funeral Home, 177 W. Main St., Amelia.

Funeral service: Monday at 9:30 a.m. at funeral home.

Donations can be made in care of the U.S. Grant Career Center, 718 W. Plane St., Bethel, OH 45106.

BETHEL - They were working at U.S. Grant Career Center on Thursday, but there were somber faces and many tears as students at the vocational school reeled from the loss of Michael Ross, a senior, classmate and friend.

Ross, 18, of Bethel died Wednesday evening after the pickup truck he was driving went off Bethel Maple Road and overturned, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers said.

"We've just thought about the family the whole day," said Stephanie Roewer, a senior from Batavia. "I think we're in state of shock right now about how fast this could happen. He was just here."

Troopers say Ross was driving a 1986 pickup about 7:30 p.m. when the truck drifted off the roadway. Ross overcorrected and caused the truck to flip, partially ejecting him, police said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three passengers - Ross' stepsister, Ella Branham, 24, of Brown County; Greg Hayes, 40, of Bethel; and James Sellars, 35 of Kentucky - were taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not available, but their injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

Ross was helping Branham move a refrigerator to her house when the accident occurred, Branham said.

At least 20 teens from Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have been killed in car crashes this year.

Grant Principal Ken Kappel learned of the crash while watching television news.

"I knew immediately that that was our Michael," Kappel said. "He was in the beginning of his senior year. It's a very touching situation. It's kind of sad around here today."

School counselors worked with students to handle their grief.

Ross was in the school's culinary program and worked at Frisch's in Bethel. He began at the vocational school last year, as a junior.

Around school, he was known as a friendly student who greeted teachers every morning.

"He had the sweetest disposition," Roewer said. "He was a sweetheart. I saw him all the time in school."

Students in the culinary program are planning to place a cross at the crash site in memory of Ross.

Janice Morse contributed to this report. E-mail

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