BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The mother of a university student from Ohio talked with her daughter about being safe on a spring break trip with her sorority sisters, but didn't expect they'd run into danger even before reaching the airport.
Terri Seibold's daughter, Kristen, was in a car that dodged a wrong-way driver as two cars of Bowling Green State University students headed to the Detroit airport early Friday for a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic. The second car collided head-on with the wrong-way vehicle, killing three Alpha Xi Delta members and the wrong-way driver. Two sorority members were seriously injured.
She said she's struggling to balance relief over her daughter's safety with the other families' losses.
Seibold said the two carloads of sorority members, and another group that had headed to the airport earlier, had spent much time planning the trip to the Punta Cana resort community. Spring break began Saturday for the university of about 18,000 students, located about 30 miles south of Toledo.
"They packed up their cars and everything and decided to leave around 2 to make sure they had enough time," she said. She said they hadn't traveled far along Interstate 75 when the crash occurred.
"The driver of Kristen's car swerved quickly out of the way," she said. "She didn't hit anything and regained control, but their friends behind didn't."
The vehicle had traveled the wrong way for several miles and was being pursued by police just before the collision, Ohio state troopers said.
Those killed were Sarah Hammond, 21, a junior from Yellow Springs, Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, a junior from Aurora and sophomore Christina Goyett, 19, from Bay City, Mich.
The wrong-way driver, Winifred Lein, 69, of Perrysburg, was traveling alone and was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. Investigators are looking into why she was driving on the wrong side of the divided highway.
Injured were Angelica Mormile, 19, a freshman from Garfield Heights and Kayla Somoles, 19, a sophomore from Cleveland. Both were in critical condition Saturday at a Toledo hospital.
In her hometown, friends were planning a Saturday afternoon prayer service for Mormile at the chapel of her alma mater, Holy Name High School in Parma Heights.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We're just hoping for the best," said Michael Sullivan, an assistant principal at the school
In Bay City, Mich., John Glenn High School principal Tony Bacigalupo said Goyett had visited during Christmas break.
"It was a nice chance to catch up with her. She was very excited about the direction of her life and felt things were going great," he told The Blade.
Hammond was remembered at Greenon High School in Springfield as energetic and friendly.
"If you're picturing someone who's bubbly and vivacious and everyone's friend and popular and the center of everything that went on – that's her," said guidance counselor Don Dunstan.
At Aurora High School, principal Mike Roberto said Blakkolb was quiet, respectful and always smiling.
"Her loss will be hard on a lot of people because she did have a lot of friends" he said.
In Bowling Green, Garrett Gilmer, director of the university's Counseling Center, said a counselor spent Friday at the sorority house. Counselors also were to be available to students during the break and would check on sorority members when classes resume.
"It's not going to be quick healing," he said.