Students at Lakota West High School wore the favorite colors of a fellow classmate, who died in a automobile crash Friday night, to honor his memory on Monday.
Lakota West High School students honor the memory of Zeke Stepaniak on their first day back at school since Stepaniak died after he crashed his car over the weekend. Photo provided.
Roughly 1,500 Lakota West students, most of which donned the colors of yellow and green, gathered at the school’s Main Street hallway for a group photo. The photo (larger version) will be sent to the family of Lakota West High School junior Ezekiel “Zeke” Stepaniak of Liberty Township.
“I’ve never seen such an outpouring of love and sincere willingness to comfort each other,” said Michelle Day, Stepaniak’s English teacher.
On Friday night, Stephaniak was attempting to turn onto Hamilton-Mason Road from southbound Ohio 747 when the 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt he was driving was struck by a 2001 Cadillac driven by James Moore of Liberty Township who was traveling north on Ohio 747, according to report from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
Stepaniak, 17, was pronounced dead by the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office on Saturday. Meanwhile, another passenger, sophomore Ashley Stacy, 16, was taken to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton for serious injuries.
As of Sunday night, Stacy’s condition has improved according to a release from the school district. On Monday, Stacy had successful surgery and is in the ICU.
Furthermore, three other passengers sophomores Cameron Winters and Nathan Phu, both of Lakota West, and sophomore Rudi Danquah of Lakota East have all been treated and released.
After the crash, which occurred shortly before 11 p.m. Friday, the Lakota West community quickly set up a memorial near the site of the crash. According to Lakota West parent Jim Novak of Liberty Township, a candlelight vigil attracted about 300 people to the memorial site Saturday night.
Zeke Stepaniak. Photo provided.
Day described Stepaniak, as full of life, spontaneous, kind, calm and patient with people. He had wisdom that belied his relatively young age, she said.
“He was a kid who liked everybody,” she said.
Lakota West principal Richard Hamilton described Stepaniak to Enquirer reporter Paul McKibben as popular with lots of friends as well as being was a good student. He played in-line hockey and bowled. He also enjoyed video games, super hero comics, basketball and football. A video game controller was placed at the memorial.
“Zeke Stepaniak was a terrific young man,” said Hamilton. “He was a bright, caring individual who will be missed throughout the Lakota West community.”
Chris Gay, 20, a Lakota West graduate who now attends the University of Cincinnati, bowled with Stepaniak. Gay left a bowling towel at the memorial. Gay said Stepaniak was fun loving who “just made everybody happy that he was around.”
Paul McKibben contributed to this story
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