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Sorority sisters focus on moving forward

When reflecting on the wrong-way crash that killed three of their sisters, the women of Alpha Xi Delta vowed to honor them by living their lives “as they would have.”

Juniors Julie Rego and Jessica Lash, the sorority’s president and vice president of public relations, spoke publicly Thursday for the first time about the loss of the three students.

“We want to celebrate the lives they lived,” Lash said. “They made us all stronger people, and we will think about them in all that we do, and bring them with us wherever we go.”

Winifred Lein, 69, of Perrysburg, collided head-on into a car carrying five of Rego and Lash’s sisters at about 2:15 a.m. on Interstate 75, just south of state Route 582.

Lein was driving southbound in a northbound lane and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The crash was unavoidable for the students, who were headed to Metro Detroit Airport to catch a flight to the Dominican Republic for a spring break vacation.

Three students died as a result of the crash: junior Rebekah Blakkolb, 20, of Aurora, Ohio; sophomore Christina Goyett, 19, of Bay City, Mich.; and junior Sarah Hammond, 21, of Yellow Springs, Ohio.

The two students who survived the crash — freshman Angelica Mormile, 19, of Garfield Heights, Ohio, and sophomore Kayla Somoles, 19, of Parma, Ohio — have now been transferred to hospitals near their hometowns and are expected to recover, said Dave Kielmeyer, University spokesperson.

State Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash and has not yet determined why Lein was driving the wrong way on I-75.

To Rego and Lash, however, the most important question isn’t “why?” but instead “what now?” — a philosophy a pastor advocated at one student’s funeral, Rego said.

“It’s more beneficial to stop asking ‘why?’ and come to terms with what happened and move on from there,” she said. “The question has really left my head. There’s no point; it just hurts more to think about it.”

Instead, Alpha Xi Delta members want to celebrate the sisters’ lives and their memories of time spent together, Lash said.

“[Goyett] was on my council … and we have so many ideas of hers that we’re going to carry through with, because we want to do them for her,” she said. “They were all amazing leaders, great students and to tee, Alpha Xi Delta sisters.”

The University has organized a memorial service for this Friday called “A Celebration of Sisterhood” to honor the lives of Blakkolb, Goyett and Hammond, Kielmeyer said. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. on the lawn of University Hall and will conclude with a candlelight vigil that ends at the Alpha Xi Delta house.

The sorority is still deciding what to do as a memorial on campus for the deceased students, Lash said. Several fraternities and sororities have offered to host fundraisers to help collect money for the cause.

“We’ve been doing a lot of fundraising, because we know medical bills aren’t cheap,” she said. “Then after the memorial, we’re going to try to work with the families and find out what they would want the most.”

For now, Alpha Xi Delta members are “staying strong and relying on each other’s support” to cope with the loss of Blakkolb, Goyett and Hammond, Rego said.

“It’s not an individual issue; it’s something that happened to the entire chapter, and we can relate to each other without even saying anything,” she said. “I don’t think it really hit us until we got back, and I don’t even know if it still has fully … We’re all going through this together.”

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