EP student killed, 2 injured in accident

A pickup truck rests against a tree off Waterford Road in Unity Township after an accident just after midnight Saturday, killing one teen and injuring two others. (Photo by Patti Schaeffer)

A pickup truck rests against a tree off Waterford Road in Unity Township after an accident just after midnight Saturday, killing one teen and injuring two others. (Photo by Patti Schaeffer)

EAST PALESTINE — Grief counselors and clergy from all over the county were called to East Palestine High School Sunday to help students, friends and family deal with the loss of a senior student killed in a car crash shortly after midnight Saturday.

Trevor Walker, 18, was southbound on Waterford Road when the 1999 Chevy Dually 3500 pickup truck he was driving went off the left side and into a tree, the highway patrol said.

The crash happened at 12:10 a.m. just south of Hisey Road. Walker’s two friends in the car, also East Palestine students, survived, but with serious injuries.

Jonathan Meek, 15, was taken by New Waterford EMS to the Morris airfield where he was transferred to a Stat MedEvac medical helicopter and flown to the St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.

Another passenger, Hunter DeBee, 15, was also taken to the health center in Youngstown by East Palestine EMS ambulance.

Walker, who did not survive the crash, was taken by New Waterford EMS to the St. Elizabeth’s in Boardman.

According to state patrol trooper Jared Paine, the trio were heading south on Waterford Road at the crest of Hisey Road and continued 512 feet down the grass before crossing over the road, going off the left side and striking a tree.

New Waterford firefighters extricated the occupants with assistance from East Palestine firefighters. Trooper Nick Smith is investigating the crash, assisted by Paine and Sgt. Brad Bucey of the Canfield post. The patrol report did not indicate whether seats belts were in use.

East Palestine School District Superintendent Traci Hostetler said the grief counselors were on hand Sunday mainly for those closest to Walker, such as family, classmates and friends, while the counselors will be available today for the entire district, except the elementary school.

Hostetler said Walker had “the most beautiful smile,” and that he had just this year joined the basketball team for the first time.

“He wanted to be on the basketball team and finally went out for the team and made it, so he was pretty excited about that,” Hostetler said, choking back emotion on Sunday.

Walker also played soccer, serving as team captain and sporting jersey No. 26.

In addition to trying to cope with their grief, Hostetler said that Sunday was also a chance to honor Walker’s life and his family, and support one another.

After learning of the tragedy, the district posted to its Facebook page, “It’s a very sad day in our town. Our hearts are broken. Our prayers go out to the families, friends, classmates, and loved ones … Thank you to the dozens of people who are making themselves available on both days to help us process our deep sadness.”

In addition to East Palestine staff counselors, the district has been provided with counselors from the Columbiana, Crestview, Leetonia, Lisbon and Springfield school districts, as well as religious and non-religious counselors and counselors from the Counseling Center of Columbiana County.

The district has postponed its girls and boys basketball meet the team night from today to next Monday, Nov. 21. The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the high school. The Key Communicator meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday was also canceled.

Hostetler said that after speaking with their parents, Meek and DeBee are expected to make a slow but full recovery.

Meek is a junior firefighter with the East Palestine Fire Department.

Staff photographer Patti Schaeffer contributed to this report.

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