By Rick Palsgrove
Paula Kennedy, a long time secretary at Groveport Madison High School, was killed when a suspect driving an allegedly stolen vehicle crashed into her car on Noe-Bixby Road on the morning of Oct. 3, according to the Madison Township Police.
“Mrs. Kennedy was a tremendous part of our school’s community and she considered our school as part of her family,” said Groveport Madison High School Principal Paul Smathers. “It’s hard to adequately articulate the extent of her impact on our school, because she did so much for so many people, whether they be staff members, students, or parents. She was always ready to help in any way she could. Her loss has been felt by our entire Cruiser family, and we want her family to know how much she is loved and will be missed.”
Kennedy had worked at the school since 2004.
According to Maureen Kocot, the communications director for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff’s office received the initial report of a stolen vehicle at 8:44 a.m. on Oct. 3 and at 8:47 a.m. a Madison Township police officer spotted the vehicle.
“The crash occurred less than one minute later,” said Kocot. “Following the crash, our sheriff’s deputies did respond to assist.”
According to the Columbus Police, the suspect driving the allegedly stolen vehicle left his lane and struck Kennedy’s car head on. The crash occurred on Noe-Bixby Road just south of Laraine Court. The suspect was in critical condition following the accident and Kennedy died of her injuries.
No police cruisers were involved in the crash.
“Our officer was briefly involved with this incident, attempting to stop a car that had been reported stolen a few minutes earlier,” said Madison Township Police Chief Gary York. “Our officer turned on the squad car’s lights and siren and then slowed at a traffic signal that had turned red to assure the safety of other vehicles already crossing the intersection, before proceeding. The (allegedly) stolen car went through the red light and continued on, out of sight. Moments later, the crash occurred.”
York said a review of the dash cam video available from the Madison Township Police officer’s car and other information confirms that “the incident never evolved into a police pursuit, and we’re satisfied that the Madison Township Police officer involved followed proper procedures. We understand the two individuals involved in the crash sustained serious injuries and our thoughts are with them and their loved ones.”
York said the investigation of the case and the charging of the suspect is being handled between the Columbus Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“The accident occurred on the jurisdiction of the Columbus Division of Police and it was determined that the Columbus Police Accident Investigators would investigate the crash,” said Kocot.