UNITY TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – There were meetings and grief counselors at East Palestine’s middle and high schools Monday after a student died in an accident over the weekend.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, 18-year-old Trevor Walker, of East Palestine, was driving south on Waterford Road, near Hisey Road, about 1 a.m. Sunday when he drove off the side of the road and hit a tree.
Two other high schoolers were injured in the crash, but were last listed in stable condition. Both are students at East Palestine.
Walker was wearing a seat belt but his passengers were not, according to investigators. They do not suspect alcohol played a factor in the crash, but are still waiting for the results of a toxicology report.
This is Columbiana County’s eighth fatal crash of 2016 and the second in Unity Township that’s killed a high school student.
“I know Unity Township, there’s a couple of roadways we tend to focus on a little bit more but as a whole, there’s nothing that’s come to my attention,” said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott Louive.
He says that Waterford Road isn’t a problem area in the county.
Superintendent Traci Hostetler says she could’ve heard a pin drop in the high school on Monday. The students are grieving over the loss of their friend.
“Sheer disbelief. I didn’t think anything like that could happen,” said Tom Dumbauld, Walker’s friend.
Walker was one of the captains of the East Palestine soccer team this year. He was also the editor of the school newspaper and just made the basketball team for the first time.
His soccer coach, Robert Patterson, wiped away a few tears while talking about him.
There’s now a memorial at the crash site, with a basketball and cross that says “forever our captain.”
“I mainly did that because of his positive attitude. It let him shine and show a little bit of leadership. Kind of paying him back for the hard work he’s done the last three years,” Patterson said.
He says he may ask the school administration to retire Walker’s number – 26.
Dumbauld, who knew Walker all throughout his school years, says he’s trying to remember the good times they had together.
“One of the kindest kids you’ll ever meet. If anyone was ever in a bad mood, he would instantly cheer them up, instantly with a smile.”
Another one of Walker’s friends, Marshall Huddleston, says he had a “big heart.”
“It’s really tragic to the town.”
High School Principal Chris Neifer says they have a few ideas to memorialize Walker, but nothing has been set yet.
The crash is still under investigation.