NEWPORT - A veteran Newport Elementary School teacher passed away Saturday as a result of injuries suffered in a car crash on Ohio 7 near Sheets Run Road.
Laura Hoff, 58, of Newport, was set to retire at the end of the school year, and leaves behind a legacy of warmth and dedication to the children of the district.
"Mrs. Hoff was such an outstanding teacher," said Frontier superintendent Bruce Kidder on Sunday. "She touched the lives, probably, of over a thousand kids in her career."
Newport Elementary School is closed today, to allow the district to get counselors in position to help children deal with the grief.
"We have to help those children that knew Mrs. Hoff," Kidder said.
A memorial of some type for Hoff will take place in the district, but details had not been worked out as of Sunday, Kidder said.
Hoff was killed when the SUV she was driving was struck head-on by a pickup truck driven by Jake Minder, 18, of New Matamoras, a senior at Frontier High School.
"He lost control and he spun around in the roadway," said Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper L.C. Forshey.
Minder was traveling northbound on Ohio 7 in heavy rain, and lost control of the vehicle due to what is believed to be unsafe speed in the road conditions. Minder struck the right front corner of Hoff's vehicle with the right rear corner of his pickup, Forshey explained.
The accident occurred at approximately 2:50 p.m. Saturday, shortly before Frontier High School's prom.
The Ohio Highway Patrol's crash reconstructionist is investigating the crash, and a full report is expected in about two weeks. There is no suspicion of drugs or alcohol and all parties involved in the crash were wearing seat belts.
Hoff's 2-year-old grandson was also injured as a result of the crash. He was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital and later LifeFlighted to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. The toddler underwent surgery Saturday evening, and will have to undergo therapy as a result of the crash.
"The toddler is still up at Children's Hospital in Columbus, but he's doing fine," Forshey said.
Even though she was set to retire at the end of the school year next month, Hoff had agreed to return to the Frontier district next fall to help with the "power educator" program, Kidder said.
"Her career at Frontier was outstanding. It's sad to end this way," Kidder said.
The New Matamoras Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the Grandview Volunteer Fire Department and the Newport Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the scene with the Ohio Highway Patrol.
The accident was the first fatal crash on Washington County roadways this year, and just the second for the Marietta Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol this year. The first crash occurred April 23 on Ohio 78 in Morgan County.