A simple “Merry Christmas” photo from Caitlin Yager will never leave her friend Lena Parteleno’s memory.
Hannah Mitchell will never forget the last Starbucks outing she had with her friend Caitlin this past Sunday.
“She was just somebody who wanted the best for everybody,” Mitchell said.
Yager died in a car accident that left three of her family members injured early Thursday.
Yager, 19, was in the back seat of a car on U.S. Route 20 in Wakeman Township near Norwalk.
Richard Yager, 59, who was driving; Carol Yager, 57, and Matthew Yager, 23, all of Canfield, sustained “incapacitating” injuries and were taken to a Cleveland hospital, according to authorities.
According to the Sandusky Register newspaper, Jordan Zartman, 20, of Tiffin was driving on Route 20 west of Fitchville River Road. Zartman’s vehicle slid on the icy road and hit the Yagers’ car head-on.
The newspaper reported that Zartman was wearing a seat belt and suffered “nonincapacitating” injuries. The Ohio State Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash.
Caitlin Yager was a sophomore at Marietta College, where she was majoring in history and land/ energy management.
She graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School, where she was a cross-country and track runner.
“She was very talented with running, and she was very talented in school,” said Janet Cadman, her former cross-country coach at Cardinal Mooney. “She was one of those kids who put her whole heart into it.”
Caitlin Yager was planning to study in Russia in the spring.
“In just over a month, I will leave the U.S. to study abroad in St. Petersburg,” she wrote in a blog post Dec. 19. “I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to immerse myself in a radically different culture with other American students. I am filled with joy when I think about the chance ...”
Her friends, still in shock over the news they received from Matthew, Caitlin’s brother, recall Caitlin as an ambitious, funny and loving person. She loved to write thank-you notes, bake and volunteer.
“We made plans to go to the park over break,” Mitchell said. “It’s so crazy to me.”
Mitchell and Parteleno both have many memories to cherish of their friend they called kind and honest.
“She always really motivated everybody else,” Mitchell said.
Yager served as a Student Senate sophomore representative at Marietta. She was on the cross-country and track teams, and was a member of Sigma Kappa sorority and the Student Alumni Association. She also was president of the Marietta College Interfaith Association, and this year was working as a peer mentor for the honors program at the college.
The president of Marietta College, Joseph W. Bruno, issued a statement on social media Thursday.
“I know our thoughts are with the Yager family and with Caitlin’s friends at this extremely difficult time,” he wrote. “We extend to them our heartfelt condolences. My thoughts are also with our students and all members of our community who share in this tragic loss.”
He also commented on Yager’s active presence on the campus in many different areas of opportunity.
“At this time we are not aware of any funeral arrangements for Caitlin, who was 19,” he wrote. “We will also look for an appropriate way to honor Caitlin on campus once everyone returns in January.”