The halls of Monroeville High School and EHOVE Career Center will echo with remembrances of junior Dustin Bajerski today. He was killed in an accident Tuesday morning on his way to EHOVE.
Laurie Replogle, one of Bajerski’s favorite teachers, saw him for the final time when he left her first-period art class Tuesday. Bajerski, 17, started his day with her class and then drove to EHOVE for the rest of his school day.
“He was always positive and upbeat,” Replogle said. “He always used his art to create things for his classmates or his friends.”
His work was unique, Replogle said, because Bajerski used personal experiences in the creation of his art. She said it was common for Bajerski to give away his artwork as a personal memento to friends when he completed a project.
“Just this morning he was talking about giving blood at EHOVE Monday,” she said Tuesday night. “He was always willing to help.” Replogle said he encouraged a Monroeville student to give blood at the school’s blood drive later this week.
“He kind of encouraged her and put her at ease,” the teacher said.
Replogle said Bajerski was identified as gifted in visual arts in 2006. He originally started an auto body course at EHOVE, but switched to visual communication and design because he wanted to continue with his art.
With just six students in her studio art 3 class, Replogle said the students get the chance to know each other well. Bajerski enjoyed experimenting with different media, she said, but probably liked working with pastels best.
She said he was very interested when a former student came back to talk about courses at Columbus College of Art and Design.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Dustin would have done something special in the art field,” Replogle said.
The teacher found out about Bajerski’s death shortly after it happened Tuesday morning. She said getting through the rest of the day was difficult. Monroeville administrators decided not to tell students about their classmate’s death Tuesday, she said, but grief counselors will be at Monroeville High and EHOVE today to meet with students.
“We’re getting to school early and we’ll be ready to work with the students,” Replogle said. “We’ve got such a supportive staff.”
Monroeville resident Renee Dickman, whose son Matt was close friends with Bajerski, said learning of his death was a shock. “He has a great smile,” she said. “He respects people and he had a good heart.”
Matt, a freshman, rode the bus with Bajerski.
“They loved to fish together. They liked to work on bikes and just hang out and do boy stuff,” Dickman said.
Now, she added, the community will work to support Bajerski’s family. His mother, Lynne M. Wiley, 45, of Bellevue, was driving Bajerski to EHOVE when the accident occurred. She was taken to Fisher-Titus Medical Center Tuesday.
“We’ll all pull together and we’ll just be there for her,” Dickman said.
The accident took place at the intersection of Strecker and Kelley roads.
A 1993 Dodge four-door driven by Bajersk’s mother, Lynne M. Wiley, 45, of Bellevue, was traveling north on Kelley Road at 8:50 a.m. when she failed to stop for the stop sign and drove into the side of a 2007 Volvo Semi being driven westbound on Strecker Road by Mark Zeiter, 43, of Collins, according to troopers with the Sandusky Post of the state Highway Patrol.
Wiley's vehicle spun off the south side of the intersection and struck a utility pole. Bajerski, who was seated in the right front seat and wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene by Bill Hlavin, an investigator with the Erie County Coroner's office.
Wiley and Zeiter, who works for Zeiter's Trucking in Norwalk, were transported by North Central EMS to Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk. Wiley was wearing her seat belt and suffered non-life threatening injuries, though she remains at the hospital. Zeiter was not wearing his seat belt and also suffered non-life threatening injuries. He was treated and released.
The semi was pulling a 2007 East dump trailer and was empty. After impact, the tractor/trailer unit spun off the south side of the road into a different utility pole, troopers said.
Power was lost to several residences in the area due to the crash. Hydraulic fluid from the semi leaked into the ditch and nearby catch basin. Erie County EMA Director Bill Walker was on scene coordinating clean up with the trucking company and Spill Tech Inc.
Other agencies assisting on scene included the Erie County Sheriff's Department, the Erie County Highway Department, the Milan Township Fire Department, the Erie County Dog Warden, North Central EMS, P&W Towing, North Side Towing, and Ohio Edison.
This was the first fatal crash occurring in Erie County in 2007 and the first fatal since the 2006 Christmas Day fatality that occurred on U.S. 6 west of Sandusky.