Teen in fatal Warren County crash ‘was just an all-around good kid’

Feb 13, 2018
Sean Cudahy
A Warren County boy died and another driver is in critical condition after a 4-car crash on Ohio 48 in Clearcreek Twp., Warren County. JAROD THRUSH/STAFF

A 16-year-old boy died on Tuesday in the second head-on crash in the past five days resulting from a driver veering into the oncoming lane to avoid rear-ending another vehicle in his lane in this busy township in northern Warren County.

RELATED: Driver that crashed head-on into ambulance to face citation

Thomas Williamitis, age 16 of Oregonia, also was the second Dayton Christn School student killed in less than a year in a crash in Clearcreek Twp.

Williamitis was pronounced dead at 7:46 a.m. at 8594 Ohio 48 in Clearcreek Township as the result of a head-on collision during a four-car crash near the Lytle-Five Points intersection, according to the Warren County Coroner’s Office.

“He put his heart into what he did,” said Father John Trough of St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church in Lebanon.

“He’ll be sorely missed.”

On Tuesday, Williamitis, a sophomore at the Dayton Christian School in Miami Twp., Montgomery County, was northbound on Ohio 48 headed to school and traveled into oncoming traffic, about a mile north of Ohio 73, triggering the four-car crash.

Terry Vanderberg, 47, of Centerville, was transported by a Careflight helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital with life-threatening injuries and listed in critical condition, according to Lt. Chuck O’Bryon of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

“That’s what we are kind of concerned about,” O’Bryon of the Ohio Highway Patrol said Tuesday afternoon as troopers continued to investigate the crash.

MORE: Deadly wrong-way wrecks

Another driver was treated for minor injuries, O’Bryon said.Williamitis’ body was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office for a full autopsy. Results were pending.

According to preliminary reports, the crash happened when Williamitis’ northbound 2007 Saturn sedan went left of center on Ohio 48, south of Lytle-Five Points Road, head-on into a 2013 Subaru.

O’Bryon said the Subaru driver, Jessica Zimmer, 30, of Kettering, veered to avoid the collision, then went off the east side of the road, into a mailbox and then a field.

Debris from the Subaru tire hit a northbound 2014 Toyota SUV, but the driver, Amanda Coleman, 35, of Centerville, was uninjured.

Thomas Williamitis, 16, of Oregonia received a certificate in January 2017 for heading a landscaping project at his church, St. Therese the Little Flower Catholic Church in Lebanon. CONTRIBUTED Photo: Staff Writer

Williamitis’ car then hit the 2002 GMC Envoy driven by Vanderberg.

“He wasn’t feeling well in the morning, but he wanted to go to school,” O’Bryon said. “We may never know why he went left of center.”

Last Friday, about 8 miles across the township, at 7:50 a.m., a stroke victim in the back of an ambulance, two medics transporting her and the victim’s husband riding in the passenger seat of the ambulance were injured when a man eastbound in a truck crossed the center line on Ohio 122 in Red Lion.

MORE: Development continues in once-rural Red Lion

No one died in this crash, but the stroke victim, Marjorie Bottorff, 52, was in serious condition at the Dayton hospital. The driver, Jessie Jones, 21, of Lebanon, is to be charged with driving left of center, according to O’Bryon.

No other charges were filed after investigation showed Jones had not been speeding or otherwise been driving recklessly, O’Bryon said.

The patrol post commander said it was unclear what caused Williamitis or Jones to go left of center.

“Were they on the phone?”O’Bryon said, listing a series of other potential explanations for why the drivers went left of center. “Who knows.”

It was the second Dayton Christian student to die in a crash in the past year.

In March 2017, Alexis Jansen, 16, who attended Springboro Baptist Church, died in a crash with a tow-truck at Ohio 48 and Bunnell Hill Road in Clearcreek Twp., just weeks after receivng her learners permit. Her mother, a passenger, was badly injured.

RELATED: Dayton Christian girl killed in crash

Williamitis was a wrestler and member of the band at Dayton Christian.

“We informed our students and faculty of the tragic accident and have grief counselors on site to help them process the news. We know by the reaction of our students that Tommy was well loved by our student body,” the school said in a statement.

Williamitis also was an altar boy at the Lebanon church where he was recognized in January 2017 for heading a landscaping project there.

“He was an active participant in our parish. He loved his Catholic faith,” Trough said. “He was just an all-around good kid.”