A Chesterton High
School student died Tuesday morning in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 20 in
Coroner Chuck Harris has identified the victim as Amera Abuhakmeh, 17, of
Also killed in the
accident, Harris said: Gayle Brown, 85, of Greencastle, Ind.
a 12-year-old riding in the front passenger’s seat, was critically injured.
Portage Police, at 7:04 a.m. Brown was westbound in the left lane of U.S. 20
when, 500 feet east of Clem Road, she crossed the center line and struck
Abuhakmeh, traveling eastbound in the left lane of U.S. 20, as she and her
sister were on their way to school. “The impact caused catastrophic damage”
to Brown’s 2012 Buick Regal and Abuhakmeh’s 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse, police
said, and both drivers succumbed to their injuries at the scene.
sister--whose name Portage Police did not release--was transported to
University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, where she was
reported in critical but stable condition.
“The Portage Police
Department Crash Investigation Team is conducting a thorough investigation,”
Police Chief Troy Williams said. “Notifications to the families have been
made. No words can lessen the pain felt by each family but our thoughts,
prayers, and condolences go out to them during this time of tragedy.”
Williams told the Chesterton Tribune that investigators have not
determined why Brown may have crossed the center line, except to say that
both witness statements and road marks do indicate that she drove left of
center into Abuhakmeh’s vehicle, just as she was coming out of a curve on
U.S. 20 and Abuhakmeh was starting to enter it.
The posted speed
limit on that stretch of U.S. 20 is 45 miles per hour. Williams said that
investigators are attempting to calculate Brown’s speed at the time of the
crash. Williams added that, to his knowledge, this area of U.S. 20 has no
unusual accident history.
released the following statement at the end of school on Tuesday afternoon:
School Corporation was saddened to learn this morning that a Chesterton High
School senior was killed this morning in a traffic crash and a Chesterton
Middle School student was critically injured.
“We have learned
from authorities that the senior and her sister, who is a seventh-grade
student, were involved in a crash on U.S. 20 in Portage.
High School senior was an active member of the school’s band program. The
school’s band director met separately with members of the band this morning
to share the news and has remained available along with counselors to
support the students during this difficult time.”
“Our schools, just
like all the schools across the United States, are a gathering place and
mirror the patchwork of our communities,” Duneland Schools Superintendent
Ginger Bolinger said. “This is a difficult time for both our students and
staff. We grieve the loss of this wonderful student and offer our prayers
and support for the family in this difficult time.”
CHS Principal Jeff
Van Drie told the Tribune today that students and faculty both are
shocked and saddened. “Kids have asked me, ‘What are we going to do?’ The
first thing we’re going to do is look to the family and respect them,” he
said. “And then we’ll think about a memorial.”
Amera was a proud
member of the Trojan Guard, Van Drie said, and her friends and comrades in
the marching band especially are shaken. “Flowers have been placed by
Amera’s locker and her band locker. There are signs up, memorials. The
Trojan Guard is looking for a way to honor their fallen member.”
were informed of Amera’s death shortly after school began on Tuesday, Van
Drie said, and at 8:50 a.m.--on learning that proper notification had been
made to her family--the administration summoned all Trojan Guard members to
the band room, where Trojan Guard Director Michael Scheiber made the
announcement and counselors were on hand to talk to students.
Then, at 9 a.m.,
Van Drie sent an e-mail to all teachers advising them of the loss and asking
them to inform their classes. “We didn’t want to break this news over the
P.A. system,” he said. “We wanted teachers to talk to their students
face-to-face, personally. Because of social media, it was important to us to
make sure that the information the kids had was accurate.”