Flowers, balloons, stuffed animals and other tokens of affection mark the spot along South Main Street in Coventry Township where three middle school students were struck by a vehicle late Sunday afternoon, with two girls dying of their injuries.
One girl died at the scene, with the other one succumbing to her injuries at a hospital. A boy remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday, according to the latest available information.
Another boy, also a Coventry Middle School student who was the fourth member of the group, was uninjured.
Three of the four children were struck by a car about 4 p.m. as they crossed South Main Street — there are no sidewalks on that part of the heavily traveled road in the Portage Lakes area.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating, as of late Monday had not released information about the fatal incident, including names of the students and the driver of the car that struck them. The Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office also said Monday it was not ready to release the names of the dead children.
The girls were both in the eighth grade, while the boys were in seventh grade, according to a reverse phone call sent to parents by Coventry Middle School on Sunday.
The school district’s crisis team met Monday; school will reopen as usual this week, according to a social media post.
A woman who lives near the crash site placed hand-cut red roses at the roadside memorial. The neighbor, who didn’t want her name used, said the flowers came from a bush planted years ago by her now deceased mother.
The woman said she didn’t know the children who were hit by the car, adding that children walk through the area regularly.
Some drivers honked their horns and waved as they whizzed past just feet from the makeshift memorial.
Charlie Byers, 14, brought flowers and stood by the memorial Monday afternoon at South Main and Leicester Drive.
Charlie said he was in classes with all four students and close with one of the girls in particular.
“Her and I were best friends,” he said. “She always helped me through when I was bullied and stuff like that.”
Charlie said he lives nearby.
“We heard the sirens, and my brother came home and said there was a person dead and two hurt,” he said. “We came down.”
Charlie described his friend as “amazing” and said she wouldn’t let people tell her no.
“She loved going out with her friends,” he said. “She rode dirt bikes and four-wheelers a lot. Back in these woods, I was with her one day riding, and she got hit right here with a branch, right in the forehead. And she got up, laughing, got back on and rode away. I always viewed her as indestructible. Then yesterday this happened, and I was just in shock.”
The crash happened in front of the home of Dorathy Koopmeiners, who said she saw the driver, according to Beacon Journal news partner News 5 Cleveland.
“She got out of the car quite hysterical. I could hear her yelling. ‘I didn’t see you, I didn’t see you,’ and that’s when police came,” Koopmeiners said.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ