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Pa. teen killed in auto accident

March 24, 2007|by TARA REILLY

ST. THOMAS, PA.-A Fort Loudon, Pa., teenager died and a 17-year-old passenger was flown to the hospital Friday morning as the result of an accident in Saint Thomas Township in Franklin County, according to a press release from Pennsylvania State Police in Chambersburg.

Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner pronounced Jonathan Ray Thomas, 17, dead at the scene about 35 minutes after the 7:37 a.m. accident, according to the release.

A passenger in the 2000 Ford Explorer Thomas was driving, Michael Ray Varner of Chambersburg, was flown by helicopter to York (Pa.) Hospital, according to the release.

The accident happened on Racetrack Road, about one-half mile west of Jack Road, according to the release. Thomas and Varner were eastbound on Racetrack Road when the Explorer crossed the center line while spinning counterclockwise, according to the release.

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The vehicle continued across the westbound lane, went off the road and eventually struck a tree, which caused the right front door to open, throwing Varner from the vehicle, according to the release.

The Explorer then spun around the tree before coming to a stop, according to the release. Varner landed about 45 feet from the vehicle, according to the release.

A York Hospital official said Varner was in stable condition Friday night.

The teenagers were not wearing seat belts, according to the release.

James Buchanan High School Principal Rodney Benedick said Thomas was in the pre-engineering program at the Franklin County Career Center and was on his way to school when the accident happened.

Thomas was enrolled at James Buchanan in the first semester of this school year.

"He was a good student," Benedick said. "Obviously, it's tragic anytime something like this happens."

Benedick described Racetrack Road as a "little, winding road" that serves as the back way to the career center.

Grief counselors were on hand at the schools Friday and will be back Monday, he said.

"Today was a shock because we actually got the call from the coroner and had to make an announcement," Benedick said.

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