A Kettering teen who was killed by an alleged drunk driver sacrificed his life for a young boy who was fishing with him and his family, according to the teenager’s parents.
The Rife family traveled to Pennsylvania at least once a year to escape everyday life. Austin, a junior at Kettering Fairmont High School, enjoyed the outdoors in Grove City — a borough with a population of 8,232 according to the last census, and spent his time fishing and riding dirt bikes.
“He wanted to move there because he loved it so much,” said Rife’s father during an interview with the Dayton Daily News in their home on Sunday.
Around 11 p.m. Aug. 8, Rife, his parents, Jeremy and Stephani, his 13-year-old brother Dalton and a family friend, 6-year-old Logan Thompson, went fishing on Old Ash Road. The pond is on a farm that belonged to a friend.
Shortly after midnight, they saw a Ford F-150 pickup truck leave the road and drive in their direction. The pickup truck traveled about 240 feet through a field before striking Rife and his mother, according to a Pennsylvania State Police report.
Everyone but Austin ran, his mother said. He grabbed Thompson.
“The last thing I remember is him screaming mom, but I couldn’t get to him,” Stephani Rife said. “He sacrificed his life to save someone else. He put everyone before himself.”
Rife and his mother were transported to Grove City Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead the same day. She was treated for minor injuries.
Thompson suffered minor injuries, Stephani Rife said.
Dana Wagner, a Clayton resident and close family friend, called Rife “a selfless kid.”
“He was always worried about people, especially little people,” she said.
Rife, who would have been 16 years old in September, had planned to divide his time between Fairmont and Centerville High School, where he had been accepted into a culinary program.
The adolescent boy expressed interest in becoming a chef or a law enforcement SWAT team member. In 2011, he completed the Kettering Police Department Citizen’s Academy.
Those close to Rife said there were two things he loved — basketball and shoes.
“That’s what he did,” Jeremy Rife said. “He collected shoes.”
Jerry Tanner, a friend of Rife’s, remembered the teenager joking that he had saved a lot of money for college, but he planned to go to community college so he could use most of the money to buy more sneakers.
“He was funny,” Tanner said.
During a private memorial in Pennsylvania, Rife’s family threw the sneakers he was wearing when he was killed into the pond where they were fishing, Rife’s parents said.
“It knocked him out of his shoes, and he loved his shoes,” said Rife’s father, referring to the pickup truck.
Brittany Raskowsky, a 25-year-old resident of New Castle, Pa., was taken into custody on DUI-related charges, according to Pennsylvania State Police. She has been released to her family.
Additional charges are pending, according to police.
Rife’s body is still in Pennsylvania, but his family said his remains should arrive home within the week. His parents hope to schedule a funeral shortly after his body arrives.