School community mourns death of music teacher

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CANTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A school community is mourning the loss of a beloved music teacher who was killed over the weekend in Stark County.

Martha Rogers, 57, was on her way to a private music lesson when her car was hit by a vehicle that crossed into her lane. It happened at approximately 8:30 on Saturday morning while Rogers was driving northbound on State Route 43.

“If you could just assume that both vehicles are traveling at 50 to 55 then the impact of that crash would be 100 or 110 miles an hour,” said Sgt. Todd Belcher from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Investigators said Rogers’ vehicle was struck by the pickup driven by 20-year-old Levi Russell of Carrollton. Russell is accused of crossing left-of-center and crashing into Rogers’ Mazda. A second vehicle traveling behind Rogers crashed into both Russell and Rogers but no one in that car was seriously hurt.

“The impact of the two cars was just too traumatic,” said Sgt. Belcher, who confirmed that Rogers died at the scene.

“She’s just a real upbeat and happy person,” said Massillon City Schools Superintendent Rik Goodright. “She had been dealing with an ill husband for a number of years.”

According to Goodright, Rogers leaves behind a college-aged son after her husband died last year. She was a teacher for 33 years and the majority of her time was spent teaching music. She most recently worked at Gorrell Elementary School.

“She’ll be sorely missed by those kids and the staff,” said Goodright. “She was one of those happy people you could always go to and always said ‘hi’ when you went in the building and she was really highly thought of at Gorrell and around the district.”

Students in the district are heading back to school soon and school officials are now working on a plan to help anyone who was close with Rogers.

“I know she left her legacy here so, she’s in a good place now,” said the superintendent.

The driver of the pickup, Levi Russell, was listed in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Akron City Hospital on Monday. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.