‘I’m so hurt by him dying’ — Friend of Geauga County crash victim is shocked, saddened by sudden loss

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:19 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Loved ones of the five people killed in a horrific crash in Geauga County on Monday morning are grieving their friends, family, and co-workers.

A close friend of the youngest among the victims, 28-year-old Ke’Mel Jenkins said he’s grieving and still in disbelief.

Joseph Eberhardt said he attended Collinwood High School with Jenkins, a friend he considered to be like family.

“It hurts,” said Eberhardt. “It’s sad for him to pass like this.”

Just after 11 a.m. on Monday morning, a van crashed into a semi-truck in the 14000 block of Ravenna Road, south of Pekin Road in Newbury Township.

Seven people were inside the van and, sadly, five of them were killed, including Jenkins.

“I feel horrible because I was a friend of Ke’Mel’s back in high school,” said Eberhard. “How I feel about him passing away — it’s tragic, it’s hurtful. I’m so hurt by him dying.”

Eberhardt met Jenkins when they were both students at Collinwood High school.

“A brother to me, yes, he was,” said Eberhardt. “His family was family to me.”

19 News has learned the van was taking people with developmental disabilities from Cuyahoga County to a job site in Geauga County when the tragic crash happened.

Those who died worked as custodians.

“You must appreciate life to the fullest,” said Eberhardt. “You must cherish life every day, stay praying and stay going to church. RIP to my friend. I miss you. Hopefully, I see you one day in heaven.”

The other two people in the van are being treated in the hospital.

The driver of the semi was also taken to the hospital but is expected to survive.

Investigators are still looking into exactly how the crash happened but believe the van veered into the path of the semi-truck.

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