Vigil held for couple killed in crash
IRONTON, Ohio (WSAZ) - Friends and family came together Thursday night to mourn the loss of a young couple killed in a crash Wednesday afternoon.
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers say Tony Blankenship, 20, and Nicole Laber, 19, both of Chesapeake, died after an SUV driver crossed the center line and hit their car head-on on state Route 7 near the Route 243 intersection between Chesapeake and Proctorville.
They say the 20-year-old woman driving the SUV was from Greenup, Kentucky.
Dozens of loved ones of both victims gathered at the Ironton FoodFair parking lot, lit candles, sang songs, and prayed.
“You just don’t prepare yourself for something like this,” Laber’s grandfather Rod Abrams said.
“I bawled my eyes out when I got the call,” Laber’s best friend since elementary, Darrah Smith, said.
Both Blankenship and Laber had attended Collins Career Center. Blankenship also attended Chesapeake High School, and Laber attended Rock Hill.
Blankenship’s family says he had a great sense of humor and loved to sing and play guitar.
Those who knew Laber well say she had a way of being able to cheer others up.
“He loved her a lot, and she loved him a lot,” Smith said. “They’d have so much fun in a car together. I rode with them once. We had a blast. They loved to sing to each other.”
“She touched more people’s lives than she realized at such a young age,” Abrams said. “You never want to see a grandchild go. I’d trade places in a heartbeat honestly. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve dealt with.”
Blankenship’s brother spoke during the service, urging particularly younger people to never drive distracted, when doing so for even a second can lead to this kind of tragedy.
They accepted donations at the service to help pay for funeral expenses.
Laber’s family is hoping to have her funeral next Friday at the Rock Hill school campus.
“I just hope more kids her age learn from this about being careful while they are in a vehicle,” Abrams said. “It’s something you’re never going to get over. It truly devastates a family.”
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