Teen driving student, teacher killed in Ohio crash


Their car, which apparently made no attempt to stop, was knocked off the roadway, flipped over and landed in a nearby house's front yard, police said.

An Ohio Highway Patrol preliminary investigation indicates 16-year-old Joseph Franks was driving the car while 48-year-old Thomas Smith was instructing him Monday afternoon when they drove past the stop sign in Waterville Township. After the minivan hit them, both vehicles went off the roadway, Lt. Bill Bowers said.

Franks, who was from Swanton, and Smith, who worked for Key Driving School Inc. and was from Whitehouse, died at the scene. The minivan driver, 48-year-old Kathleen Woods, also from Swanton, was hospitalized with injuries not considered to be life-threatening. All three had been wearing their seat belts.

There didn't appear to be any indications that either vehicle had tried to brake. Cars used in driving instruction must have brakes on their passenger sides, where the instructors sit, the Ohio Highway Patrol said. The car involved in Monday's crash was to be inspected by police as part of their investigation.

The driving school's owner, Bonnie Lech, told Toledo's The Blade newspaper the school's cars have the required two sets of brakes, for the driver and the instructor. She said she was waiting for the Highway Patrol's report about the crash to find out what happened.

She said she was asking people to pray for the victims of the crash.

"My heart cries out for them," she told the newspaper. "I don't have the words to say how bad I feel because I hurt so bad for them."

Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.