Strongsville Shares Brunswick's Sorrow in Fatal Crash
Local woman organizes show of support after encounter with victim's parents
Brunswick residents traveling to Jardine Funeral Home Thursday night to remember a high school student killed in a car accident June 3 found a touching tribute from their neighbors to the north.
Hundreds of blue-and-white ribbons and dozens of posters adorned both sides of Pearl Road from Boston Road to the funeral home, offering support from Strongsville for Brunswick's tragedy.
Visitation for Lexi Poerner, 16, one of the four Brunswick teens killed in the accident, was Thursday evening at Jardine's.
The tribute was organized by PJ Warner of Strongsville, who said a chance enounter with Lexi's parents on Wednesday prompted her to act.
"I was a little surprised Strongsville hadn't done anything yet," Warner said. "So I wanted to do something."
How It Came About
Warner and her mom were leaving Aldi Wednesday when her mother cut her arm, which started bleeding.
A couple coming out of Pat Catan's noticed, came over and offered to help.
"They were so nice, asking if there was anything they could do," Warner said. "We talked for awhile and as they were leaving, they said 'we're Lexi's parents.'"
Warner was stunned.
"Here they were, in their darkest hour, and they're caring about somebody else," she said.
So Warner went on Facebook, suggested a tribute to the teens killed in the crash, and recruited about 15 volunteers.
They spent the rest of Wednesday and all day Thursday creating ribbons and bows in Brunswick's blue-and-white -- Catan's was already sold out of ribbons in both colors, so she bought tablecloths and cut them into strips -- and making posters.
By Thursday afternoon, every utility pole, street sign and tree was decked out.
As the volunteers worked, people passing by in cars would honk support. Some stopped and gave them bottles of water. Others came back and offered to help.
In addition to Lexi, Jeffrey Chaya, 18, Blake Bartchak, 17, and Kevin Fox, 18, were killed in the crash on Boston Road in Columbia Township.
Among those helping Warner show Strongsville's support were Holly Towernicke, Annetta Hammer, Susan and Rob Butler, Judy and Jeffrey Trunzo, Jeanette Arnholt, Dina Miller, Lisa Kenny, Celia Hardon, Jenny Gyrky and Tracy Geiss, as well as a number of students at Kinsner Elementary, who made posters.
"It was a very rewarding thing to do," said Warner, who said she's gotten a lot of positive feedback for her efforts. "It was time well spent."