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Victim of crash active in FFA, always had a smile, teacher says

May 18, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg Area Senior High School student killed Wednesday afternoon in an auto accident was remembered for her enthusiasm by a teacher and was called an "all-around nice kid" by an assistant principal.

"Her face was always adorned with a smile. She enjoyed animals," Eddie Parsons, Jessica Wenger's agriculture teacher for the past three years, wrote in an e-mail.

"She was an excellent worker and loved the hands-on activities in the agriculture department," Parsons wrote.

Wenger, 18, of Chambersburg, was killed in a 3:54 p.m. accident in the 2200 block of Path Valley Road north of Fort Loudon, Pa., according to Pennsylvania State Police. Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said the cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma.

Police said Wenger was a passenger in a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier driven by Rachelle Marie Poper, 19, of Chambersburg. Poper lost control of the car on a curve, crossed the road, and the car rolled onto its side before hitting a tree, police said.

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Neither Poper nor Wenger was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Poper, who graduated from CASHS last year, was thrown from the vehicle and was flown by helicopter to Altoona (Pa.) Hospital, police said. She was in serious condition Thursday evening, according to a nursing supervisor.

"She was very active in FFA. She was taking a couple of agriculture classes," said 12th-grade Assistant Principal Kurt Widmann. "She was also a co-op student and was working on a farm. ... Her mother actually worked at the high school."

"This past year, she worked at Gro-Land Farms milking and feeding calves," Parsons wrote. "She was excited about her job and kept records on her employment to qualify for her Keystone Degree, the highest degree offered by the state FFA association.

"She was quiet and pleasant and will be missed by her peers, teachers and friends," Parsons wrote.

Counselors and a school psychologist were available for students at the high school Thursday, Widmann said.

"We had a good many students who came down" for counseling, Widmann said. "A lot of the teachers who had Jessica had a hard time with it," he said.

A message about Wenger's death was read to students in their homerooms Thursday morning, Widmann said.

"This is a tragic loss for our community, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones," Chambersburg High School Principal Barry Purvis said. Wenger's class is set to graduate June 8.

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