Community Shows Support, Raises Money for Families of Students Killed

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BRUNSWICK, Ohio -- A tremendous outpouring of love and support is being offered for the families of the victims killed in a terrible car crash early Sunday morning in Columbia Township.

The five Brunswick high school students were riding in a car that flipped and hit a tree after crossing a dangerous section of railroad tracks in Columbia Township.

Blake Bartchak,17, Jeff Chaya,18, Lexi Poerner,16, and Kevin Fox,18, all perished in the accident.

Julia Romita, 17, was severely injured but was the only passenger to survive.

Monday night students and volunteers surrounded the high school with paper bag, candle lit, glowing luminaries.

“I’m still really numb and very sad,” said Mark Fulkerson, Brunswick H.S. Football Defensive Line Coach.

Coach Fulkerson knew Blake and Jeff very well from a very early age.

He says they weren’t just “good” kids but they were “great” young men and athletes.

“Great thinks were gonna come to those boys,” said Coach Fulkerson.

In this tight knit community it seems everyone is looking for a way to express their feelings of sadness and to help the victims families.

Blue and white ribbons, the schools colors are going up on homes and buildings throughout Brunswick and t-shirts are currently being printed at the Brunswick based company Bullseye Activewear.

The shirts will have the names of all of the victims and angel wings.

“Says on earth the were Blue Devils, in heaven their Angels,” said Austin Moniak, who was close friends with Blake and Jeff.

The shirts can be ordered at Bullseye’s website or purchased and picked up at the high school Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The cost is $15 per t-shirt with $10 being donated to the victim’s families.

On Wednesday at 4:15pm a massive balloon launch is also planned.

Local business owners are also pulling together their resources to organize a fundraiser.

David Harley, owner of Sidelines Sportsbar & Grill at 1165 Pearl Road in Brunswick is holding a planning meeting at his establishment Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

“Having kids I just can’t imagine,” said Harley, “We hold a lot of fundraisers and we want to do something I just don’t know what to do.”

Harley is asking other business owners and private citizens to join him in putting together a huge event to not only help the victim’s families but also establish scholarships and educate other young students on the dangers of jumping the railroad tracks.

“Instead of everyone doing something little I want everyone to do something spectacular.”

One student, and friend of the victims who plans to be at the meeting is Austin Moniak.

The Junior played football with Blake and Jeff and was close friends with both boys.

He had just seen fellow junior Blake a couple days ago while they were getting their helmets for summer camp and spoke with Jeff, a senior at a car wash the day before the accident.

“He told us that he wanted us to wash his car. He had a big day coming up.

He was just so excited about graduation,” said Moniak.

Sadly that was the same car Jeff was driving early Sunday morning.

Austin says the loss of his friends is devastating. He says all four of the young people were always smiling, outgoing and full of life.

He says that’s why he wasn’t surprised when he arrived at school Monday morning and saw a brilliant and beautiful rainbow stretched high above the entire school building.

“ I thought it was spectacular I knew it was from one of them up above.” Said Moniak.

For funeral information, click here.

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