Community Devastated after Death of 17yo in Wrong-Way Crash

( – The Mason, Ohio, community is devastated after Chad Samuel Case, 17, was killed May 16th in a wrong-way crash in Deerfield Township on Interstate 71.

Case was driving a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee northbound in the southbound lanes of Interstate 71 when he hit a semi tractor-trailer, driven by Bennoit Mapango, 30, head-on around 1:30 a.m. May 16th. The crash caused both vehicles to slide off the road, the semi-tractor-trailer to overturn, and a fire. The fatal crash left the interstate closed for most of the morning commute.

Case died at the scene, according to authorities. Mapango suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to Mercy Health – Kings Mills Hospital.

A spokesperson with Mason City Schools said Case was a junior at Mason High School. The school offered students and staff therapy dogs and therapists from Children’s Hospital to help cope with Case’s death. An update from the school district stated that “Grief can manifest in many ways,” adding that the services would be available to “anyone in need.” The Mason City Schools issued a statement that their “hearts are with Sam’s family and friends.”

The community gathered on May 17th for a vigil where they remembered the 17-year-old high school student. His friends and family, who called him Sam, said his personality could “light up a room” and that he could “make anyone laugh.” They said he was one of the “funniest people,” adding that “in a split second, that light was shattered.” His friend, Westin Kim, said hearing about Case’s death was hard to process at first, adding it would be hard not to see him ever again. His friends and family grieved the student who would have been a senior in the fall.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.

According to state officials, data shows wrong-way crashes in the state are increasing, with 182 wrong-way crashes happening in 2023 on divided highways across the state.

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