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Brunswick Tragedy: Community Unites

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BRUNSWICK, Ohio – Friends and classmates of four Brunswick High School students who died in a car crash on Sunday continue to visit the site of the wreck overwhelmed with grief.

Jeffrey Chaya, 18, Kevin Fox, 18, Blake Bartchak, 17, and Lexi Poerner, 16, died when the car Chaya was driving crashed on Boston Road in Columbia Twp. in the pre-dawn hours on Sunday.

Only Julia Romito, 17, survived.

The crash happened just hours before Chaya and Fox would have graduated.

The tragedy has united residents of Brunswick, where individuals and businesses are tying blue ribbons throughout the community and offering messages of support and sympathy to families of the victims.

Kathy Mangun, who works at a carpeting store on Center Road, did not know any of the victims or their families personally, but she said they felt they had to do something to show they care.

The sign in front of their store offered a message of sympathy.

“We felt like it was going to honor the kids that passed away, and also the kids that remained behind, so we just wanted to let the high school and the students and their families know that we're praying for them,” said Mangun.

At a Buehler's grocery store, where two of the victims bagged groceries, management had grief counselors in on Tuesday afternoon for their employees.

A similar message was posted outside of the Arkay flower shop not far away, where students and others in the community were ordering flowers and ribbons.

“The grief is just overwhelming,” said Sherry Eyssen, adding, “the community is shocked and we were just working with some of these kids for prom and so hearts are just very, very heavy at this loss.  Young people have been coming in looking for bows and things to put in the yards to express that love and sentiments of flowers and concern and it’s just very, a very strong feeling of community, of trying to help one another through this grief.”

Longtime Brunswick resident Richard Rice stopped at the store to pick up two blue and white ribbons for the light poles at his Oxford Drive home.

Rice said he did not know any of the victims or their families personally, but he was hoping to show them that he and his family care.

“We just feel so bad for all those parents and relatives and so forth,” Rice told Fox 8, adding, “it's the least that we can do to show our support for them.”

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