Investigation continues into student driver's fatal crash - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Investigation continues into student driver's fatal crash

Posted: Updated:
Joseph Franks was a junior at Evergreen High School. (Source: Instagram) Joseph Franks was a junior at Evergreen High School. (Source: Instagram)
Thomas Smith was a pastor at a Swanton church. (Source: Grace Bible Fellowship Church) Thomas Smith was a pastor at a Swanton church. (Source: Grace Bible Fellowship Church)
WATERVILLE TOWNSHIP, OH (Toledo News Now) -

After a student driver and instructor were killed in a fatal accident Monday, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are giving tips to parents and students on how to stay safe behind the wheel.

According to OSHP, student driver Joseph Franks, 16, failed to stop at a stop sign in Waterville Township. The Key Driving School car was then hit by Kathleen Woods, 48.

The collision killed Franks and his instructor, Thomas Smith, 48. Woods was treated for minor injuries at a Toledo hospital.

"This is very tragic, not only for the family of the instructor, but also for the family of the child, who is deceased," said Sgt. Robert Sellers with the OSHP.

Smith was the pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Swanton. Franks was a junior at Evergreen High School.

At this point, troopers are focusing on what caused the two to run the stop sign, and stressing the importance of safety behind the wheel.

"When you have youthful drivers, it's very important that they are free of distractions, that they're using all their safety equipment, and they're driving at or below the speed limit," explained Sellers.

OSHP troopers say Smith was in a similar accident last Thursday afternoon. Troopers say he was in his personal vehicle when he failed to yield at a stop sign and was struck by a pick-up truck. No one was taken to the hospital.

"Given that the events were so close together, however, it's not directly involved with the other crash. They are two separate incidents. But we are looking into any possible connections," explained Sellers.

Investigators are currently processing a data recorder inside the victims' car to determine exactly what happened leading up to the crash.

Local driving instructors say a typical vehicle that we drive is not enough to ensure safety; there are specific tools instructors' cars must have before hitting the road.

"This accident will be in my mind for a long time," said Donna Foster, who owns Mid-America Driver Training in Bowling Green. "It's another way to teach and help instill and show how we have to be so responsible on the road. We can't be careful enough."

The instructor vehicles must have an extra mirror and a passenger seat emergency brake.

"We have the brakes positioned so they are easy access, and our foot is beside them. We call it 'covering the brake,'" explained Foster.

Foster would not speculate on what happened with the brake in the fatal crash, but says the driver's education community is committed to safety. The vehicles, including the emergency brake, are inspected by the OSHP once every year.

Foster says it's always in the back of her mind that there could be an accident, but it is not enough to stop what she does.

"No. I love teaching drivers ed. I will continue teaching drivers ed," said Foster.

The OSHP says the instructor's car from the fatal accident had passed its annual safety inspection.

A fund has been set up for the family of Joseph Franks to help cover funeral arrangements and a burial. The family did not have life insurance for the teen so they are asking for all the help they can get. You can donate at any Huntington Bank.


Follow Toledo News Now:

Mobile users, click on the "video" button in the app to watch this story. Download our app here.

Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

  • 14 WFIE, The Tri-State's News LeaderMore>>

  • CONNECT WITH US

    CONNECT WITH US

    LIKE us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter -  Get Text & Email Alerts - Download our Apps - Send us photos & videoMore >>
    LIKE us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter -  Get Text & Email Alerts - Download our Apps - Send us photos & videoMore >>
Powered by WorldNow