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Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

Fort teenager killed in ATV accident

By Shelley Grieshop
A rural Fort Recovery teen was killed Tuesday night when the four-wheeler he was operating overturned on top of him and trapped him in a creek bed in northern Darke County.
Damon Klenke, 13, was taken by CareFlight helicopter from the scene to Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, where he was pronounced dead at 9 p.m. The child, an eighth-grader at Fort Recovery Middle School, is the son of Richard and Karen Klenke, 49 Lightsville-Northern, Fort Recovery, and Kimberly and Keith Will, 687 Darke-Mercer County Line Road.
Klenke was driving a Kawasaki 360 all-terrain vehicle in a wooded area on the southeast corner of Darke-Mercer County Line and Lightsville-Northern roads when the accident occurred, his mother said.
"He died in a perfect place; he really loved the woods. Hunting and trapping were his favorite things," his mother said. "He was going to see where he wanted to set traps for next season."
Family members became concerned when the boy left his father's house and didn't return for more than an hour. A relative went searching and found the teen trapped underneath the ATV and not breathing. A family member called 911 at 7:39 p.m., the sheriff's report stated.
"Karen (the boy's stepmother) gave him CPR. Bless her heart, she tried," Kimberly Will said tearfully this morning.
Family members reportedly removed the four-wheeler from atop the child and moved him from the creek area to a nearby location where an emergency helicopter landed to transport him to the Dayton hospital.
Darke County Sheriff's deputies believe the boy's ATV slid down the creek embankment and rolled into the shallow creek bed. The boy was not wearing a helmet, the report said.
The news of the tragedy spread quickly through the southern Mercer County school district this morning, officials said.
"He was such a polite, always smiling young man, full of joy. A real treat for the classroom teacher," commented middle school Principal Ted Shuttleworth.
Along with being an avid outdoorsman, the teen was a videographer for the school and taped junior high football games each Thursday, school secretary Maggie Hartings said. Hartings, the village's former police chief, said the boy was just in the office Tuesday asking to borrow a chief of police badge for a mock trial he was to participate in.
"He was such a neat kid and had such a contagious smile," she said.
He was a member of Barnyard Boosters 4-H Club and showed his family's market sheep at the Mercer County Fair each year, his mother said. He also was a member of a local trap shooting team and Students Making a Right Turn, a positive reinforcement group.
"And he loved country music," Kimberly Will added.
Damon's younger brothers looked up to him, she said. He is survived by a sister, Chelsea Klenke, a sophomore at Fort Recovery; three half brothers, second-grader Davis Will, kindergartner Kaden Will and 4-month-old Cody Klenke; and a stepsister, Kylie Keller, a fifth-grader at St. Henry Local Schools.
A complete obituary will appear in Thursday's newspaper.
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