Mike Ullery & Will E Sanders
MIAMI COUNTY — Tragedy struck the Miami East School District on Thursday morning as two siblings commuting to school in a compact car were violently struck by a dump truck carrying a load of gravel at the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and Union-Shelby Road.
The crash occurred just after 9 a.m. after a vehicle being driven by high school student Colin Hawes, which was southbound on Union-Shelby, pulled into the path of an oncoming dump truck, which was eastbound on Route 36. The dump truck crashed into the broadside of Hawes’ compact car on the passenger side where Hawes’ sister, Katlyn, was sitting, according to Mike Marion, sheriff’s sergeant and traffic reconstructionist.
Both Colin, 17, a senior, and Katlyn, 13, a seventh-grader, were transported to the Children’s Medical Center in Dayton where they remained Thursday night in the intensive care unit.
Colin was listed in critical condition and his sister was listed in serious condition Thursday night, both suffering from head injuries, Marion said.
Based on a preliminary reconstruction of the traffic crash and eyewitness reports, it appears that Colin failed to yield to the dump truck after coming to a complete stop on Union-Shelby Road, Marion said.
“It looks like a basic failure to yield,” Marion said. “(Colin) did come to a complete stop at the stop sign, but he pulled out in front of the dump truck, and that’s based on statements from the dump truck driver and an independent witness that saw the car pull out.”
Marion is continuing his crash investigation and reconstruction and said the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s weights and scales team arrived at the scene to weigh the dump truck. Additionally, a commercial vehicle and brake inspection was also being performed by state police officials.
“According to the (dump trucks’s) shipping papers his weight when he left the gravel yard was not overweight,” Marion reported.
The impact of the crash was enough to send a portion of the dump truck up and over the top of the rear protion of the car, pinning the vehicle and its occupants.
Rescue crews from Piqua and Fletcher fire departments responded to the crash and had to extricate both students, who were not wearing their seat belts, out of the vehicle.
The driver of the dump truck, Joseph McCreary, 59, of East Liberty, was not seriously injured and was picked up by his wife at the scene. He was wearing his seat belt. The dump truck is owned by Storm Trucking Inc., of Zanesfield.
The road was closed for approximately 5 hours after the crash before it was reopened at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The news of the tragedy hit hard in the tightly-knit school community of Miami East.
Superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said the entire district was saddened by the news and that students and staff are keeping the injured siblings and their family in their thoughts and prayers.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the kids and their family,” he said. “We’re praying for the very best. The students and the staff have been affected by this. We are a very close-knit community and school district.”
Rappold said counselors and staff members at the school will help any students who are affected by the terrible tragedy and said if a need becomes present, additional counselors will be brought in.
The school was operating on a two-hour school delay Thursday when the crash occured.
CareFlight was initially called to the scene but was unable to fly due to the weather.