Two 17-year-old females were killed after a one-vehicle crash on Wednesday night in Highland County.
The two teenagers, according to information released by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, were Kimberly Sears, of Wilmington, and Kehte Little, of Sabina. Sears was driving the Chrysler Sebring, while Little was the other occupant of the vehicle, according to the patrol.
The patrol stated that the car was southbound on New Martinsburg Road and “failed to negotiate a curve,” went off the left side of the road, struck a tree, and landed in a ditch on its top.
According to Branden Jackman, public information officer for the Paint Creek EMS/Fire district, the call came in at about 9:12 p.m. to Paint Creek’s station one in Greenfield.
Jackman said the ditch was full of water and the passenger compartment of the vehicle was submerged.
Emergency crews removed the driver and passenger from the vehicle and they were transported to Adena Greenfield Medical Center (AGMC). According to the OSHP, both teenagers were pronounced dead by the Highland County Coroner.
Jackman said that when the crash occurred a person who lived nearby drove to the scene, and the individual left their vehicle and called 911. The vehicle was left in the roadway, he said, where it was struck by a truck, which sent the parked vehicle into the “Good Samaritan,” Jackman said.
That individual was flown from the scene by MedFlight, he said, while the person driving the truck that struck the vehicle in the roadway refused treatment. The state patrol said later that the individual flown from the scene did not have life-threatening injuries.
A second MedFlight crew on the scene assisted local emergency crews in the ambulance en route to AGMC when the two teens were transported.
Emergency personnel with Highland County North Joint Fire And Ambulance District also assisted on scene, Jackman said.
Both girls were junior students at Laurel Oaks Career Development Campus in Wilmington in the cosmetology program. Sears’ home school was Wilmington High School and Little’s home school was Washington High School in Washington Court House.
“They were great kids and good students, and were at Laurel Oaks in the same [vocational] program together, where they spend several hours every day together, so the class becomes very close. That makes it especially difficult [for other students in the program]. They’ll be greatly missed,” said Jon Weidlich, community relations director for Greak Oaks.
Counting Sears and Little, there were 21 juniors in the Laurel Oaks cosmetology program this academic year.
Grief counseling, Weidlich said, will be handled first as a group when all Laurel Oaks students gather together. Then, throughout the day, students will have the opportunity to talk with people while adult leaders also give particular attention to the junior cosmetology class members.
Weidlich noted that Thursday was the last day before Laurel Oaks went on spring break, and so there will be a need to be ready to support students and staff before and after the one-week break.
At Sears’ home school of Wilmington High School, grief counseling will be available in the library all day, said WHS Principal Mindy McCarty-Stewart.
While attending WHS, Sears was “very active” in the choir program, and news of her death “has hit them hard,” McCarty-Stewart said. She was “well loved” by many students, the principal added.
The spring variety show hosted by the choir, scheduled for Thursday evening, was to go ahead and will be done in Sears’ honor.
Although the crash remains under investigation, alcohol and drug use do not appear to be factors, the OSHP stated. Any person with further information is asked to contact the Wilmington Highway Patrol Post at 937-382-2551.
Gary Huffenberger contributed to this story.