COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — When it came time for an update Tuesday on a deadly crash that included a bus filled with high school students and left three teenagers dead, it didn’t come from a highway patrol trooper or a transportation department official.
It came from Gov. Mike DeWine.
“This is our worst nightmare, when we have a bus full of children involved in a crash,” he said.
And it was a nightmare similar to one that DeWine had experienced years before.
In 1993, when DeWine was serving as lieutenant governor, his daughter Becky died in a car crash. She was driving on a wet roadway a few miles from the DeWines’ Cedarville home when her vehicle went left of center while rounding a curve and struck a pickup truck coming the other way. She was 22.
DeWine regularly remembers Becky on social media posts.
In February 2019, he wrote, “Today is our daughter Becky’s birthday; she would have been 48 today. She was killed in a car accident in 1993, when she was just 22. We miss her every day.”
In February 2017, he wrote, “Today is our daughter Becky’s birthday. She was born in Lima, Ohio, on a cold, windy, and snowy day in 1971, while I was a law student at Ohio Northern. I can’t really believe she would have been 46 years old today. I remember so well Fran and me driving to Lima from Ada on that wind-swept northwest Ohio day.”
In August 2013, he wrote, “This is the 20th anniversary of our daughter Becky’s death. We think of her each day and remember her smile, her laugh, her compassion.”
And in April 2021, he posted a photo of him and his wife, Fran, planting a tree in honor of Becky being an organ donor. “We hadn’t talked with her about organ donation in advance but decided it was what she would’ve wanted. It was an honor today to plant a tree in honor of Becky and all other Ohioans who have given the gift of life.” DeWine has been a longtime advocate of organ donation.
Becky DeWine was a journalist working as a newspaper reporter in Xenia. A little over a year after her death, Mike DeWine was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served until 2007. He took office as attorney general for Ohio in 2011 and as governor in 2019.
His role often takes him to scenes of tragedies in the state. After Tuesday’s bus crash, he visited a church in Etna where survivors were taken. Most of them were students and parent/chaperones from Tuscarawas Valley Middle-High School who were on a band trip from eastern Ohio to Columbus.
Killed in that five-car chain-reaction crash were six people all with connections to “Tusky Valley:” John W. Mosley, 18, of Mineral City; Jeffery D. Worrell, 18, of Bolivar; Katelyn N. Owens, 15, of Mineral City; Dave Kennat, 56, of Navarre; Kristy Gaynor, 39, of Zoar, and Shannon Wigfield, 45, of Bolivar. Kennat was a teacher and Gaynor and Wigfield were parent/chaperones, the school district said. At least 20 people were injured and taken to hospitals, with each expected to recover.
“It’s the worst nightmare for the superintendent, it’s the worst nightmare for the families, the worst nightmare for the teachers,” DeWine said after visiting the church. “Our hearts go out to them and our prayers.”