Fatal crash impacts school
Eric Citino is remembered as an active student and a good role model.
BELOIT -- The mood was somber at West Branch High School on Friday as students, faculty and staff mourned the death of a popular recent graduate who was among three Kent State University freshmen killed in a traffic accident near the school Thursday night.
Eric Citino, 18, of Homeworth, had taken three classmates with him to Beloit for his younger brother's wrestling match at the high school. After the match concluded, the foursome left the school and were heading north on Beloit-Snodes Road when the car Citino was driving collided with a truck.
Citino and his two rear passengers, Chelsea Lausberg, 18, of Cabot, Pa., and Brandon Butler, 19, of Woodsfield, were killed.
The front-seat passenger, Megan Daum, 19, of Marysville, was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in critical condition.
Citino was remembered at the high school on Friday as an outgoing, involved member of the class of 2004 and a good role model.
"Eric was a great kid, a fine young man," said Dr. Scott Weingart, superintendent of the school district.
Citino was active in wresting and football, took part in school musicals and was a member of Future Teachers of America, Students Against Destructive Decisions and the school newspaper and yearbook staffs. He received the 2004 West Branch Athletic Booster Scholarship Award.
Citino attended West Branch schools his entire life.
"I enjoyed watching him grow up," Weingart said. "He was the kind of student that always makes us proud to say he was a graduate of our schools."
The fatal crash occurred at 9:11 p.m. when Citino failed to stop his Mazda 626 at a stop sign where Beloit-Snodes Road intersects with state Route 14, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Canfield post.
His car was struck broadside by a Ford truck driven by Michael Nelson, 41, of Salem, the patrol said. Nelson suffered minor injuries.
No speed or alcohol was involved, the patrol said.
West Branch's counseling staff and members of the West Branch Ministerial Alliance provided support and counseling services for students at the school Friday.
It was no surprise that Citino had traveled from Kent for the high school wrestling match and brought three friends along, Weingart said.
"Eric was here to support his brother," the superintendent said.
Citino was one of five seniors on the West Branch wrestling team last year.
Wresting coaches Mike Helm and Jason Brown met Friday morning with the approximately 30 team members.
"It was important to allow them to be alone and spend some time together," Weingart said.
The 2004 West Branch yearbook's two-page spread on the wrestling team featured Citino's photo with his reflection on being a team member: "Wrestling taught me about loyalty, cooperation and team spirit, which are important lessons in life."