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Driver’s Ed Lesson Ends In Tragic Deaths of Instructor and Student

A 16-year-old driver’s ed student tragically lost his life along with his training instructor after a collision with another vehicle on Monday in Waterville Township.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reported that 16-year old Joseph “Joe” Franks and 48-year old Thomas “Tom” Smith both died at the scene of the fatal accident.

driver's ed

Joseph “Joe” Franks and his driver’s ed instructor Thomas “Tom” Smith perished in a car accident after running a stop sign in Waterville Township
Courtesy of Instagram

The crash occurred at approximately 2:30 p.m. when Franks, who was driving a Chevy Impala, failed to stop at an intersection. A Dodge Caravan, driven by 48-year-old Kathleen Woods, subsequently collided into the passenger side of the Impala as a result of the costly error.

Seat belts were reportedly worn by all three passengers at the time of the incident according to investigators.

Following the  accident, Woods from Swanton, Ohio, was immediately transported to St. Luke’s Hospital. The injuries she sustained were not considered to be serious or life threatening.

Thomas “Tom” Smith is listed on Key Driving School’s website as being one of the company’s five certified driving instructors.

An acquaintance of Joe Franks, acknowledged to WNWO television station on Monday that his buddy was indeed a student at the driving school and confirmed that his friend’s instructor was Thomas Smith.

Key Driving School posted a heartfelt message on Monday evening to its Facebook page expressing their profound anguish over the unfortunate circumstance.

“Please, Pray for the families that have been affected by this terrible tragedy. My heart cries out! Words cannot express the hurt I feel for those that are left to pick up the pieces,” the statement read.

Devastated classmates of the Evergreen High School junior utilized social media to voice grieve-filled tweets and messages as word of the fatal accident began to spread like wild fire after the crash. On Tuesday, students plan to show their respect by donning the color red in honor of Franks.

According to friends, Franks had only been a student at Evergreen for a short amount of time, however, those who knew him, described him as “a happy guy” and “a man of no worries”.  The station reported that the 16-year-old previously attended Swanton High School as a freshman before transferring to Penta Career Center.

Bonnie Lech, the owner of Key Driving School stated that their cars are equipped with the compulsory two sets of brakes, one for the driver and one for the instructor. She said she is awaiting the Highway Patrol’s investigative report regarding the crash to find out what happened.


Driver’s Ed Lesson Ends In Tragic Deaths of Instructor and Student


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