The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

On the evening of Saturday, June 5 as the clock closed in on midnight, local television news broadcasters announced that two people were killed in separate incidents along State Route 795 in Lake Township.

It was at that time that most Northwest Ohio residents might have realized that a tornado outbreak occurring simultaneously was going to have serious consequences. Most may not have realized just how serious, yet.

Four Lake Township residents and one Woodville resident would be killed as an F-4 tornado created its own path of destruction beginning at Friendly Village trailer court on Tracy Road, passing through Moline, along Route 795, heading into Millbury, and then on past Blackberry Corners and Route 579 in Ottawa County.

Millbury residents losing their lives are Ted Kranz, 46, Mary A. (DeFriece) Walters, 36, and Walters’ four-year-old son, Hayden D. Walters.

Bailey Bowman, 20, of Walbridge, and Kathleen E. Hammitt, 56, Woodville, were most likely the two women first announced killed as the tornado caught up to them while in automobiles heading along Route 795.

Memorials have been set up for all five of the deceased and readers may comment at www.presspublications.com.

The Lake Local School District is in talks with Owens Community College to use a building on campus to house Lake High School students come fall.

According to Jeff Carpenter, treasurer, the district’s goal is to keep all of the 550 high school students together.

“Right now, Jim Witt (superintendent), is in discussions with Owens,” Carpenter said. “They do have a building with enough space to serve our students. That is the most likely candidate for where our high school will be come fall.”

Carpenter stressed that although plans are not finalized, the district and the Board of Education are working to keep high school life as normal as possible.

“This is an extremely fluid situation with things happening fast,” Carpenter said. “It is very much a priority to keep the high school kids together. The board and the district is committed to doing whatever it takes to keep them together. There will be no parceling them out to other schools.”

“Our intention is to keep all of the students together and get through the best we can,” Carpenter added.

It took them two days longer than anticipated, but the Lake H.S. seniors can call themselves graduates after Tuesday’s ceremony at Owens C.C.

Just over 2,300 people filled the Student Health and Activities Center to watch 104 students hear their names called.

Among those graduates was Katelyn Kranz, the class valedictorian, who lost her father, Ted, in last weekend’s storm. Kranz did not speak during the ceremony, but she did receive the two loudest standing ovations of the night the two times her name was called.

Kranz finished with a 4.518 GPA and has accepted almost $40,000 in scholarship money. She was offered over $340,000 in scholarship money from various organizations and universities, and the graduating seniors were offered over $3 million in scholarships.

A lingering rumor that next year’s students will be spread around to various schools was squashed by Lake Superintendent Jim Witt.

“We don’t know how, we don’t know where, and we don’t know the particulars yet, but I stand here in front of you giving you my word and the word of the Board of Education that Lake High School will be together somewhere come August.”

Bailey Bowman was traveling with boyfriend Gerald Lathrop along State Route 795 heading towards his parents’ home on the evening of June 5.

The two 20-year-old Walbridge residents had spent the day at the Old West End Festival.

Before reaching the home on Luckey Road, a Category EF4 tornado swept up both Bowman and Lathrop, however, Bowman did not survive.

“Bailey and I were coming home from dinner and we were trying to get to my parent’s house for shelter because we heard that there were bad storms, so we left early,” Lathrop said. “We got to-go boxes and we were going to come back here and eat and be with my family and we didn’t make it.

“We ran into a tornado and tried to get to the (Lake Township police) department. I never saw what happened to her. I ended up getting thrown against the building and the only thing that saved my life was two boulders — one on my right and one on my left that held the building up and kept it from falling on me. The whole building collapsed and I’ve never experienced anything like that,” Lathrop continued.

The Ottawa County Emergency Management is operating an Outreach Center in the Reiman and Trowbridge roads area. First aid, and information on cleanup and debris collection sites will be available.

In addition, The Salvation Army will operate a canteen at the Outreach Center, with food and beverages for residents and workers involved in the cleanup.

The Genoa Athletic Complex will be the clearing house for lost and found.

Assistance needs and volunteer efforts are being coordinated through the American Red Cross and the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency.

Residents with specific needs are encouraged to contact Ottawa County EMA at 419-734-6900 or United Way 2-1-1 (dial 2-1-1 or 800-650-4357).

Residents/businesses are reminded that debris should be sorted and placed at the edge of the road in following categories:
• Steel/scrap metal
• Yard waste
• Clean wood waste
• Brick, block and concrete waste.

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