By SHELLEY GRIESHOP
A 16-year-old Minster boy was killed and his friend seriously
injured in a single-car accident Wednesday afternoon, one-half
mile west of the village of Minster.
The death of Minster High School sophomore Michael S. Kemper
of 2103 Minster-Egypt Pike comes exactly four years to the day
after the teen lost his father unexpectedly due to a heart ailment.
Kemper was pronounced dead at the scene by Auglaize County Coroner
Dr. Thomas Freytag. The single-car accident occurred on Minster-Egypt
Pike, less than a mile from the boy’s home.
Kemper’s passenger, Joseph D. Wiford, also 16, 5144 Bon
ton Road, Minster, was listed in fair condition this morning
at Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, where he was taken by CareFlight
helicopter. Wiford reportedly underwent surgery Wednesday evening
and suffered at least one broken bone in his leg.
Kemper, the son of Kathy (Knapke) Kemper, was driving a 1995
Pontiac Grand Prix west on Minster-Egypt Pike when he lost control
of the car about 12:30 p.m.
According to a report from the Wapakoneta post of the Ohio State
Highway Patrol, the tires of the car dropped off the left side
of the road, causing Kemper to swerve off the right side of
the roadway and into a private yard. The car then struck a power
pole and the driver’s side came to rest leaning against
Trooper Lisa Miller told The Daily Standard this morning the
top of the pole broke off and power lines were lying across
the car when rescue workers arrived. Dayton Power & Light
crews were summoned to the scene to safely dispose of the power
lines before the boys could be removed from the vehicle.
Miller said the cause of the crash appears to be excessive speed
and the driver may have been distracted, although the investigation
is ongoing. Seat belts appeared to have been used by both boys,
Kemper’s aunt, Melanie Ojala, told The Daily Standard
this morning the two boys and one of Kemper’s cousins
had eaten lunch together earlier in the day, and the cousin
was dropped off at his home prior to the crash. Kemper and Wiford
were returning to Kemper’s house when the accident occurred,
“He will be so deeply missed,” Ojala said in a soft
voice. “He was a good boy, he couldn’t work hard
enough. His mother is in shock right now, just trying to put
one foot in front of the other.”
Ojala said the boy’s father, Steve, died in his sleep
at the young age of 42, after suffering a ruptured aorta artery.
The coincidence of the father and son’s deaths on the
same date is almost more than the family can comprehend right
now, she said.
Surviving with Kemper’s mother are two sisters, Lynn,
22, of Piqua, and Katie, 19, who lives at home.
Kemper was a member of the high school football team, the Catholic
Youth Organization basketball team and the school’s FFA
His death marks Auglaize County’s first traffic fatality
of the year. A complete obituary appears on page 5A.
Kemper and Wiford both had permission from their parents to
leave the school early Wednesday, school Superintendent Halver
Belcher said this morning. Minster High School students are
currently observing exam week and are excused during portions
of the day — with parental permission — if they
do not have tests to take, he added.
It was a somber morning at the school today as the entire student
body met for an assembly before classes began, Belcher said.
“I told them this was the most difficult speech I’ve
ever had to give a group. I just wanted to let them know it
was OK to express their feelings right now. This was so unexpected,
such a difficult time for everybody,” Belcher said.
Both boys are members of the sophomore class, which met with
school staff and counselors following the assembly. Counselors
and clergy from the community were on hand at the school as
part of the district’s crisis plan.
A prayer service is set for 7 p.m. tonight at St. Augustine
Catholic Church, with viewing and funeral services to follow
Friday and Saturday.