By Margie Wuebker
Two Mercer County residents -- a motorcyclist and a pedestrian -- died Saturday in separate accidents along rural roadways. They are the ninth and 10th traffic fatalities of the year.
In another accident, the 2005 Fort Loramie High School valedictorian was killed Friday night near Cincinnati while en route home to Shelby County for the weekend.
Chad B. Alspaugh, 28, 1211 McGough Road, Rockford, was pronounced dead at Mercer County Community Hospital, Coldwater, following a 12:07 a.m. crash on Grauberger Road, south of Rockford West Road.
Alspaugh and his brother, Ethan D. Alspaugh, 22, also of the McGough Road address, were driving motorcycles northbound when an animal darted into their path.
Chad Alspaugh, who was on the inside, swerved his 2000 Harley Davidson in order to miss the animal but struck his brother's 2001 Harley Davidson in the process. Both men lost control of their motorcycles, which traveled off the pavement and rolled several times, ejecting the riders. Neither were wearing helmets.
Ethan called 911 via cell phone, telling dispatchers he had suffered a leg injury and could not find his brother. He subsequently located Chad after crawling to the road. Mercer County Sheriff's deputies found the pair side by side, with the younger man reportedly administering first aid to his brother.
Chad was transported by ambulance to the Mercer County Community Hospital, Coldwater, where he died in the emergency room. His brother was taken by ambulance to Van Wert County Hospital, where he was treated then released.
"He was waiting outside when I got off work at Lingenfelder Performance Engineering in Decatur," Ethan told The Daily Standard. "We went riding for a while, stopped at home to talk to Mom and Dad, and then went riding some more."
He remembers little about the accident, other than trying to find his brother in the dark.
"Chad was the kind of guy who got along with everybody and he always seemed to be in a good mood," he added. "We spent as much time as possible together."
Chad, who received a degree in computer-aided design in March 2004 from ITT Technical Institute in Fort Wayne, Ind., drove a semitrailer for Schroyer Trucking of Celina. He previously worked as a design engineer at Lift All in Fort Wayne.
Dayle Alspaugh says her son loved Harley Davidson motorcycles, truck driving and animals. His niece, Brooke Alspaugh, and his Husky named Sam were the loves of his life.
"He had a big heart and a genuine love for people.
Kyle Jay Knouff, 17, 7143 Hellwarth Road, Celina, was struck by a Ford Explorer as he ran across St. Anthony Road, between McMillan and Burrville roads, at 10:07 p.m. Saturday. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Mercer County Coroner Dr. Timothy Heinrichs.
Knouff, a junior at Celina High School and student in the welding program at Tri Star Career Compact, had been attending a gathering at a nearby home, according to sheriff's office reports.
Jerry L. Grube, 25, 2231 state Route 219, Coldwater, told deputies he was driving eastbound and did not see the boy on the south side of the road.
Also responding to the scene were Mercer County Prosecutor Andy Hinders, Southwest Mercer Fire Department and a St. Henry unit of Mercer County Emergency Services.
"My son was looking forward to the start of wrestling season," Cecelia "CeCe" Knouff said this morning. "He was so proud of the varsity letter he earned last year."
Tragedy is no stranger to the Knouff household. The boy's father, 41-year-old Jerry Lee Knouff, died Oct. 24, 2001, in a traffic accident along U.S. 127 in Darke County. Kyle was 13 at the time.
"He was so much like his dad," the mother says in a voice choked with emotion. "He liked to demo derby and always used his dad's number (100)."
Kyle had been scheduled to ride on the Tri Star float in the Minster Oktoberfest Parade on Sunday afternoon. Fellow officers went ahead as planned in his honor.
"My son was so full of life and he loved to work," the mother of three added. "He was always in a hurry to get things done."
She sighs, pointing out how much he liked the Tim McGraw song "Live Like You Were Dying." She hopes to include it in funeral rites.
He had participated on the Celina Bulldog football team for two seasons but had switched his allegiance to wrestling this year. In addition to school, he worked at Florence Stockyards in Celina and shared his father's passion for livestock.
The youth had been a member of Washington Winners 4-H Club, a 4-H camp counselor and a member of the Mercer County Junior Cattleman's Association. He had shown the grand champion hog at the 2001 Mercer County Fair and his other interests included deer hunting and riding his four-wheeler and pickup truck.
"He had to grow up in a hurry after Jerry died," his mother said. "He became the man of the house at the age of 13."
Both traffic accidents remain under investigation.
Stephanie Ann Siegel, 19, Elm St., Fort Loramie, died Friday night when her car was struck broadside at a Cincinnati-area intersection. Information regarding the 9 p.m. accident was not available from Hamilton County authorities.
Siegel, the daughter of James R. and Susan Siegel, was enrolled in the honors program at Xavier University in Cincinnati as a pre-med major.
The valedictorian and 2005 Fort Loramie graduate reportedly enjoyed art and participating in Drama Club activities. She previously worked at North Loramie Drive-Thru and Al's Place, both of Fort Loramie.
She is the granddaughter of Carl and Ruth Stammen, St. Henry.