Three members of a Mason family, the parents and a 10-year-old girl, were remembered Monday as active in their neighborhood and in the girl’s school after they were killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 south of Dayton.
Timmy Thompson, 51, Karen Thompson, 50, and Tessa Thompson, 10, were killed in the accident, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. Neighbors said the Thompsons have a teenage son who was not in the vehicle.
As news of the triple fatal accident spread through the Mason cul-de-sac where the Thompsons lived, the neighbors said they were shocked and saddened.
Terri Holt, a neighbor who lives just a few houses from the Thompson’s home, said another neighbor knocked on her door Monday morning to tell her what happened.
She said she would regularly see Timmy Thompson walking his daughter to the bus stop at the end of the street, and they were very involved in the neighborhood.
“I can’t believe it,” Holt said. “Life is so short anyway. I’m just so sad about it.”
Another neighbor, Steve Setoodeh, hadn’t heard about the fatal crash until he was told by several members of the media. He said he was “shocked to hear of the tragedy. This just makes no sense to me.”
Setoodeh said he has an adult daughter, and when asked about losing a child, he said, “It’s beyond my imagination.”
A wrong-way driver caused the crash, which was reported on I-75 between Dryden Road and South Dixie Drive around 8 p.m., according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The accident involved two vehicles, authorities said.
Tessa Thompson was a student at St. Susanna School, Mason City Schools spokeswoman Tracey Carson said. Mason City Schools sent counselors to the school to assist students.
The school said in a statement on Monday that Thompson “was a bright light who had a great effect on students and staff and it is a tragic loss for all who knew her. St. Susanna Parish School and Catholic community expresses heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the Thompson family and their friends affected by this tragedy.”
Mark Thompson, Tim’s younger brother, told our news partner WCPO-TV his brother was smart and successful.
“They all had big hearts,” he said. “They were my everything.”
At least one neighbor was seen delivering food to the Thompson house around noon Monday, but she didn’t want to talk to the media.
Mark Thompson said the three could have been visiting Karen’s family in Maumee when they crashed.
It’s not certain how fast the northbound driver was traveling when that vehicle was involved in the “head-on” collision, Moraine Police Detective Sgt. Andrew Parish said.
Parish did not identify the driver of the wrong-way vehicle, a Kia, and he said authorities are still working to determine where and how it entered the southbound lane on I-75 before striking a Toyota Camry.
“We’re still gathering witness statements, analyzing those 911 calls to find out exactly how this person got on the wrong side of the interstate,” said Parish said. “We don’t know if they crossed over, if they got on an exit, went up the wrong way on the entrance ramp or what. But at some point they crossed over, got into the wrong lanes and struck this family head on.”
The driver, whom Parish did not identify, remains hospitalized.
Police said they believe alcohol was a factor in the wrong-way driver getting in the southbound lanes.
“To what extent, we’re not sure yet. But we are investigating that,” Parish said. “This is horrific. Not only do we have two adults that were involved. We have a child….who’s lost their life because of this crash. This is absolutely tragic.”
The wreck closed the interstate for nearly four hours, with the help of staged salt trucks to block all lanes and force traffic off of the I-75 exit, according to the state patrol.
Staff writer Nick Blizzard contributed to this report.
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