Steve Setoodeh, who lives near the Thompsons, said when he saw their crashed Camry on TV he didn’t recognize the car because of the extensive damage. The accident closed I-75 for nearly four hours, police said.
“What a big tragedy,” Setoodeh said.
One 911 caller said: “I’m pretty sure no one survived. It is awful.”
Police had said they suspected alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. The crash report states beer came from Michaels’ mouth as medics attempted to make her breathe. She was wearing a St. Patrick’s Day shirt, multiple green shamrock necklaces and a temporary tattoo of a beer mug on her right cheek, according to the report. An officer found a large cup with a Fireball whiskey logo in her purse.
Relatives believe the Thompsons were returning from visiting Karen Thompson’s family in northern Ohio.
Karen Thompson worked as multiple disabilities teacher at Taft Elementary in Cincinnati Public School District since 1994, officials said.
“Karen was a tremendous teacher and her work had a huge impact on many families,” said Frances Russ, communications officer for the district. “All of us will miss her.”
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. Tessa was described as “a bright light who had a great effect on students and staff and it is a tragic loss for all who knew her,” according to a statement from the district.
Timmy Thompson has a grown son from the previous marriage, and the son wasn’t in the car at the time of the accident, neighbors said.
Terri Holt, a neighbor who lives just a few houses from the Thompson’s home, was near tears as she talked about the accident on Monday.
“Life’s short anyway,” she said. “Why does somebody have to die because somebody was drinking and driving?”
The Thompsons were the latest victims of area wrong-way interstate crashes, which have claimed at least a dozen lives in roughly the past three years.