By Shelley Grieshop
Parkway High School senior Elizabeth "Liz" C. Lawrence was killed early Sunday morning when her car drove over a guardrail one mile north of Mercer County, and landed upside down in a water-filled ditch.
Lawrence, 17, was on her way home at 1:30 a.m. from a job at Wendy's in Decatur, Ind., a restaurant managed by her mother, Sharon. Her father, Rex, recalled his daughter's ambitious nature.
"She was a track athlete, ran cross country and threw shot discus," he said tearfully. "She was a National Honor Society member, very proud of her grades. I just wish I knew... ."
According to the Van Wert County post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Lawrence was alone and driving east on state Route 81, west of Harrison-Willshire Road, when she drove off the right side of the road and then back onto the road. She reportedly overcorrected and struck the guardrail to the right, continuing over the top of it. The 1992 Chrysler LeBaron landed upside down in a ditch.
Lawrence was pronounced dead at the scene. Rex Lawrence said the family moved to the Rockford area just one month ago from Bluffton, Ind., where Liz and her sister, Carolyn, attended high school.
"Liz wanted to go to Ohio State in the worst kind of way," her father said, so the family moved to Ohio to avoid future out-of-state tuition costs.
Although Liz Lawrence had not yet attended classes at Parkway Local Schools, which begin Aug. 23, she was an athletic trainer and attended practice with the football. She had already made numerous friends, High School Principal Greg Puthoff said.
"This was a top-notch kid and a top-notch family," he said this morning. "The first thing they asked the school is if we had the National Honor Society here."
Puthoff said schedules were sent out to students and Liz asked to have study halls replaced with subjects. It was clear she was a very ambitious and studious young lady, he added.
Rex Lawrence, a 20-year veteran coach of basketball, football and track at Bluffton High School, was a candidate for a coaching position at Parkway. However, the family is now considering moving back to Indiana.
The accident was the second fatal traffic accident this year in Van Wert County.