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Teen was son, friend and 'brother'

December 13, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - Ryan E. Markle was the brother Mike Fox, 17, said he never had.

On Sunday, Mike, like Ryan's other friends and family members, still was trying to come to grips with losing his "brother."

He also was struggling with the knowledge that he was supposed to be in Ryan's car bound for Smithsburg High School at the time of the fatal crash.

Ryan, of 13703 Newcomer Road in Hagerstown, was pronounced dead at the scene of a one-vehicle crash Saturday morning in the 23000 block of Fruit Tree Drive. The accident also left Aaron C. Lewis, 17, of Cascade, with serious head injuries, Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class David Scott Smith said.

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Smith said Ryan lost control of the car on a wet, curvy stretch of road, at about 9:30 a.m.

"The car was literally split in half," Smith said.

Aaron was in serious condition Sunday at Washington County Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Velvet Hammond, Ryan's aunt, said his death has been devastating to his parents, Michael and Diana Markle, and sister, 11-year-old Jillian.

"It's heartbreaking," Hammond said. "My poor sister and brother-in-law have suffered such a great loss. We all have. I think it's something, as a parent, you never heal from."

Ryan, a senior at Smithsburg High School, was called quiet and an automobile enthusiast by his aunt.

"He was always looking through his Car and Driver magazine," Hammond said. "He knew all that was going on with all kinds of cars. He knew quite a bit about his car (a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier) and every little thing he wanted to order for it."

Hammond said Ryan recently began working at Warner Industrial as a plumber's apprentice. His father is employed there, she said.

"He was really good with his hands, and he was doing really well when he got out there," she said. "He liked making good money so he could buy things for his car."

Hammond said several of his friends and classmates will serve as pallbearers during Wednesday morning's funeral services at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown.

Mike, of Cascade, described his friend as the most kind, trustworthy person he knew.

"I'm an only child. He used to stay at my house every night in the summer, so he was like the brother I never had," Mike said. "I miss him so much already."

Mike said Ryan was among several people on their way to Smithsburg High School to work on a school project. Mike, who was supposed to ride in Ryan's car with his two close friends, said he canceled because of a bowling tournament.

Mike said Aaron had not yet regained consciousness when he visited the hospital Sunday, but he was improving.

"I was supposed to be in the car with them," he said. "It's heartbreaking knowing I could have been in that car. I don't know ..."

Ryan's classmate Brandon Jones was in the area when the crash occurred - two cars behind the Chevrolet.

"They went around the turn. When I came around, I realized and, 'Oh my God,'" Brandon said. "It's like so unreal. I was talking to him one second and then he's in a wreck. It's just bad."

Brandon said that although some would call Ryan quiet and shy, he always opened up around his friends.

"He was kind of the class clown. Every time you talked to him, he had something funny or goofy to say," Brandon said Sunday. "He would always make you laugh. It's the weirdest thing that that happened."

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