Brunswick Tragedy: Raising Funds, Raising Spirits

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BRUNSWICK, Ohio --  More than 100 people gathered on Tuesday night at Sidelines Bar and Grill on Pearl Road in Brunswick to brainstorm ways to help the victims of Sunday morning’s fatal car crash.

The group of business owners, parents, educators and students from Brunswick High School discussed numerous plans to not only assist with funeral costs but keep the memories of the victims alive.

Jeff Chaya,18, Blake Bartchak,17, Kevin Fox, 18, and Lexi Poerner,16, all died when the car Jeff was driving hit a dangerous portion of railroad tracks in Lorain County, went airborne and then struck a tree.

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Julia Romito, 17, was the only survivor.

At the meeting, one of Blake’s cousins, Bonnie Romana, addressed the crowd.

She thanked everyone for their support and said that is the only thing keeping the families going right now.

She also said fixing those train tracks must be a top priority.

“Something should’ve been done a long time ago. We can’t ignore it anymore,” said Romano.

A petition has begun circulating in Brunswick to get government involved in repairing the tracks or at least adding lights and signs to make the stretch of Boston Road in Columbia Twp. safer.

People attending the meeting say they hope to raise about $100,000.

That money could be used to pay for funeral costs, a memorial park, a bonfire and safety education for young people.

David Harley, the owner of Sidelines, also said he’d like to start a scholarship fund.

He said they could award a $2,000 scholarship each year for the next 25 years.

“This community’s heart is breaking,” said Harley.

*Click here for extended coverage of the tragedy in Brunswick.*