‘She was so happy’: Family of Cleveland school teacher killed by dump truck speaks out

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The family of a Cleveland school teacher who was struck and killed by a dump truck is speaking out.

“She was just the biggest ball of joy and positive energy you could ever meet,” said husband Ben Chronister.

Danielle Chronister, 33, died Wednesday morning after she was struck and killed by a dump truck while she crossed the street at Chester Avenue and East 21st Street.

“She was so happy wherever she was, doing whatever she was doing.  She was very much in the moment,” said Ben.

Ben recalled the first moment he met Danielle.

“I was standing near a door and she flung it open as she came in and it smacked me in the face. I was struck, literally and figuratively, from then on,” said Ben.

They were together for 13 years. Both of them were teachers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Danielle taught science. Ben teaches language arts.

“She stole my phone from me and got into my Google calendar. She set a daily reminder that said, ‘I will always love you. I will always choose you. Love, your wife Danielle.’  So every morning at 9 a.m., I get that message from her,” said Ben.

Photo courtesy Chronister family

And it was just before that alarm went off Wednesday morning that everything changed for Ben. Danielle was walking within the crosswalk when she was hit by a dump truck turning right.

She was taken to MetroHealth where she was pronounced dead. Ben said she was walking to school to begin the day with her beloved students at MC2STEM High School, which is nearby.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District issued a statement following Danielle’s death saying, “This is a devastating loss for the school and community. The district has made extra support available for students and staff as they try to cope with the tragedy.”

“Much of her philosophy, her activism, her life was dedicated to helping people be kinder to other people,” said Ben.

It’s a legacy that Ben wanted to honor by creating The Danielle Chronister Memorial Scholarship Fund, which can be found here. The money will go to students of MC2STEM High School in Cleveland who want to study chemistry, engineering, or science in college.

“She was trying to help create a world that she felt it should be,” said Ben.

The crash remains under investigation.

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