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Monday, July 30th, 2007

16-year-old area youth dies in crash

By Margie Wuebker
A Parkway High School junior died early Saturday morning in a one-vehicle crash that was discovered by family and friends along a rural road west of Rockford.
Tyler J. Dellinger, 16, 987 Winkler Road, Willshire, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before 4 a.m. by Mercer County Coroner Dr. Timothy Heinricks. Dellinger, the son of Jim and Vicki Dellinger, was the only occupant of the 2003 Dodge Stratus. His death marks the fifth traffic fatality of the year.
Jim Dellinger called the Mercer County Sheriff's Office at 3:16 a.m. to report his son had not come home and this was not like him. In a subsequent call, the worried father told a dispatcher he had received a cell phone call saying there had been an accident. Before the signal faded, he thought the caller said it occurred on Wilson/Grauberger or Rockford West roads.
He went to the area and called via cell phone to report finding parts of the red car his son was driving at the intersection, but did not see the vehicle. In another call at 3:34 a.m., he asked deputies to hurry as the car had been located afire in a nearby cornfield.
A deputy subsequently informed a dispatcher at 3:41 a.m. the accident had resulted in a fatality with family and friends present at the scene.
Investigators determined the teenager was driving northbound on Grauberger Road when he apparently lost control. The vehicle traveled off the east side of the road, went airborne and struck a Dayton Power & Light utility pole before rolling or flipping five to six times. It burst into flames upon coming to rest in a nearby cornfield.
Authorities believe the driver, who was not using a seatbelt at the time, was ejected after the first flip.
"We believe the accident occurred sometime after midnight but it was not located until hours later," Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey told The Daily Standard. "Grauberger is not a heavily traveled road at night."
He indicated speed appears to be a factor in the crash and there is no evidence of alcohol usage. The accident remains under investigation.
Responding to the scene were Rockford and Chattanooga firefighters and a Rockford unit of Mercer County Emergency Medical Services.
"My brother and his girlfriend had gone to Celina to get something to eat to watch the (Lake Festival) fireworks," his older sister, Ashley, said. "He called Dad to report the fireworks had been delayed and he would be home a little later than originally planned."
She described her brother as a responsible young man who always did as he was told. He enjoyed farming and working in the family's well drilling business.
The young man, who looked forward to beginning his junior year in a matter of weeks, had plans for the future.
"Tyler was going to enroll at Ohio State University and major in business," she said. "He knew exactly what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go."
In addition to achieving honor roll status, he was a member of the Parkway golf and baseball teams. He also was active in the local FFA chapter and was a catcher on an Acme baseball team.
"He enjoyed baseball and golf every minute of the day if he had the chance," his sister added. "He always stuck with the Cincinnati Reds ... in good times and bad."
She and her mother had left to begin a vacation in South Carolina on Friday; her father and two brothers had been scheduled to fly there today.
"Tyler was a very fun loving and energetic person," she said in a voice ripe with emotion. "He was such a loving and caring person. It's so hard knowing we won't see his smile again."
Services are planned at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Ketcham-Ripley Funeral Home in Rockford, the Rev. William Hecht officiating. Memorials can be made to the Parkway Booster Club.
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