Chesterton Tribune



CHS mourns Amera Abuhakmeh, 17

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A Chesterton High School student died Tuesday morning in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 20 in Portage.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris has identified the victim as Amera Abuhakmeh, 17, of Portage.

Also killed in the accident, Harris said: Gayle Brown, 85, of Greencastle, Ind.

Abuhakmeh’s sister, a 12-year-old riding in the front passenger’s seat, was critically injured.

According to 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.

Abuhakmeh’s 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.”

This morning 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.


Duneland Schools released the following statement at the end of school on Tuesday afternoon:

“The Duneland 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.

“The Chesterton 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.”

CHS administrators 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.”


Posted 10/25/2017




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