COVENTRY TWP. Tragedy struck the Coventry community around 4:45 p.m. Sunday when two middle school students were killed and another injured after being struck by a car while walking along South Main Street near Leicester Drive.
Now, the community is mourning the loss of Amber Thoma and Taylor Galloway, both 14-year-old girls and 8th-grade students at Coventry Middle School.
A 7th-grade boy was also struck and taken to the hospital where he remained in critical condition as of Monday. A fourth student, another 7th-grade boy, was not injuried.
The driver of the car, a 24-year-old New Franklin woman, went across the fog line, according to a news release from the Summit County Sheriff's Office, and struck the three children who were walking northbound on a hilly portion of South Main Street where the speed limit is 40 miles per hour and there are no sidewalks.
"Sidewalks are a bit complicated in an unincorporated area," Summit County Government Affairs Liaison Heidi Swindell said. "The county is able to do the construction and administration of installing a sidewalk, but the township would have to do the long-term maintenance. I am sure we will be having that conversation in the future."
On Tuesday morning, a pair of makeshift memorials, which included items such as balloons, stuffed animals and basketballs, had gone up on the west side of South Main Street where the tragic indicent occurred.
According to Amber's obituary, she had a "serious passion for basketball." Family members went on to remember Amber as "stunningly beautiful inside and out. She had an infectious smile, contagious laugh and a heart of gold."
"I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the families and friends of all involved in the horrific accident in Coventry Township," Coventry Trustee Edward Diebold said. "As a stepfather of an 8th grader at Coventry Middle School and an elected official in our great community, we must support each other in this time of need.
"Also a special thanks to (Coventry Middle School Principal) Tina Norris and the entire Coventry Local School staff for all they have done to start the healing process of our children."
On Monday, the school district's Crisis Team met and released the following statement:
"On behalf of the Coventry Local School District, we are deeply saddened by the tragic accident involving four of our middle school students. To begin, the district would like to thank the first responders, Coventry and Green Fire, Summit County Sheriff’s Department, and Coventry Township Trustees for their quick response, support, and compassion in this situation. In addition, we want to note that the surrounding school districts and area churches have all reached out and offered their support and resources.
Foremost, we would like to give our sincere and deepest condolences to the families of the two young ladies who have lost their lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man who is currently in critical condition and we are extremely grateful for our fourth student who was uninjured."
The Summit County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the incident. No charges have been filed as of Wednesday.
Suburbanite correspondent Eric Poston contributed to this report