By Margie Wuebker
A Coldwater woman, who was struck by a car Friday night as she crossed a St. Henry street en route to a family campfire celebration, died Saturday morning at Parkview Memorial Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Ruth Ann Koesters, 64, 720 W. Walnut St., was taken by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater following the 10:13 p.m. accident. She later was transferred via helicopter to the Fort Wayne hospital.
Koesters planned to meet her husband, Charles, and other relatives at the home of nephew Craig Miller, 161 S. Walnut St., St. Henry. She had parked her van on the west side of the street near the St. Henry Catholic Church rectory and started across the street carrying a snack and other belongings to the party.
Charles C. "Cody" Borger, 17, 342 E. Main St., St. Henry, was driving a 1988 Pontiac 6000 LE northbound in the 100 block of South Walnut Street when he reportedly heard or felt a loud bump and got out to investigate.
The St. Henry High School junior and a member of the Redskins football team saw the woman's body in the street and began screaming. Members of his family heard the screams and so did Koesters' relatives congregated in the backyard. Eric Koesters ran toward the street not knowing what had happened and found his mother. Linda Stalder, a daughter, called 911 to summon an ambulance.
The victim, a longtime cafeteria worker in the Coldwater Exempted Village Schools, was wearing dark clothing and crossing the street in an area between two street lights. There is no crosswalk at that particular location, according to St. Henry Police Chief Bob Garman.
"It was dark and he (Borger) simply didn't see her," Garman added. "There is a possibility she had turned around and was heading back to her vehicle at the time. We don't know for sure because there are no eye witnesses."
Borger, visibly distraught, was standing in a nearby driveway being comforted by people when police arrived on the scene. He had left the stadium a short time earlier following a St. Henry-Coldwater football game, stopped momentarily to talk with someone and then continued on his way. Garman said the accident remains under investigation, but there is no suspicion whatsoever that alcohol played a factor.
Koesters' husband and six children, including two residing in the Columbus area, were able to spend time at her bedside.
"Mom held on until all of us got there," Joseph Koesters told The Daily Standard this morning. "That was her final wish and God fulfilled it."
She had planned to retire in June from the Coldwater school district, where she worked in the cafeteria for 11 to 12 years.
"Mom was the cashier and she always had a smile for everybody," Joseph Koesters says. "It didn't matter whether the kids in line were nieces, nephews or no relation at all. She loved all the kids; it didn't matter whether they were first-graders or seniors."
The school has proclaimed Thursday as Brown Bag Day to allow cafeteria workers to attend the funeral at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Coldwater. No meals will be prepared, and parents are asked to send lunch with their children.
Koesters reportedly had a green thumb with colorful flowers adorning the yard. She worried about an early frost, lamenting the blossoms had never been prettier.
"Growing flowers was her pride and joy," Charles Koesters says. "She was particularly proud of her hibiscus plant with colorful 8- to 10-inch blossoms. She kept track of how many blooms it produced ... her notebook indicates there were 260."
The family worries about Borger as they make preparations for a Thursday morning funeral.
"Our mother taught us the importance of forgiveness," Joseph Koesters says. "We want to make sure the young man driving the car knows we do not hold anything against him. It was an accident -- she didn't see him and he didn't see her."
Charles Koesters hopes to arrange a meeting soon with Borger, the boy's mother and possibly his football coach.
"We need to sit down together because I'm afraid he is in need of our support. Perhaps we can ease his anxieties and we can all begin to heal," he said.
Koesters' death marks the seventh traffic fatality in Mercer County in 2004 and the first in more than 10 years in St. Henry.