Three weeks after earning his driver’s license in Montana, 17-year-old John Kelly returned to his home in Deer Park on Saturday morning to spend a week with friends and family.
He borrowed his uncle’s Honda Civic at 6 p.m. Saturday to shuttle around some friends and pick up others. He never made it back home.
Kelly and four friends died in a two-car crash southwest of Deer Park at Glen Grove-Staley and Swenson roads.
Joshua Speck, 17; Richard “Joe” Schamp, 16; Dustin Robison, 15; and Gregory Valleau, 25, also were killed. The driver of the other vehicle was not seriously injured.
The four teenagers were students in Deer Park schools.
“It’s a real tragedy,” said Mike Blair, assistant principal at Deer Park High School.
Speck attended Deer Park High School, and Kelly and Schamp took classes at both the high school and the Deer Park alternative school. All would have been seniors this fall. Robison would have been a sophomore at the alternative school.
“It’s really a close-knit school,” said Jason Thompson, who taught last year at the alternative school, which has 45 students. “It’s really going to affect everyone in that school.”
Kelly was known for his love of computers and music. He and Speck hoped to move away from home when they turned 18, maybe to Seattle, and start a band.
“He was a rebellious teenager, but he had the biggest heart,” said Shannon Kelly, John’s mother. “He believed in peace and love. He hated fighting. He just loved everybody. He was one of the few teenagers I ever met who was proud of his mom.”
Speck was an artist and musician. He had played the guitar for six years and was teaching Kelly to play. He also drew.
“He mostly would draw Christian things for me,” said Laure Ely, Speck’s mother. “I’m a very strong Christian lady. He’d draw Jesus kneeling by the cross and the cross. He was a very Christian young man.”
Robison was athletic but shied away from organized sports. He talked about going to college.
In the past, Robison and his father had built kayaks and paddled up the Kettle River. Last summer, they hiked 54 miles through the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon.
“We loved our son very much,” said his father, Ben Robison. “He had lots of wonderful talents.”
Schamp liked to swim, knee-board and play the bass.
“He was always trying to help his father,” said Paul Schamp, Joe’s uncle.
Paul Schamp lost another friend in the crash. He had been close to Valleau for nine years. Valleau had been staying with the Schamps for two months and was studying for his general equivalency diploma.
“I loved them both very much,” Paul Schamp said. “I wish I could change places with them, but I know I can’t.”
The sequence of events leading up to the crash is unclear.
Kelly and Speck left Kelly’s home at 6 p.m. to get Schamp. Kelly’s mother expected them home by 8 p.m.
Before picking up Schamp, Kelly apparently stopped to pick up Robison and Trevor Weger. They then stopped at another friend’s home near Horseshoe Lake and left shortly after. Weger, Robison’s best friend, was left behind. He expected the group to return.
“They left before I could even say goodbye,” Weger said. “We were saying something was wrong. They weren’t supposed to be gone that long.”
Kelly then drove to Schamp’s home, where Valleau also got into the car. Valleau wanted a ride to a job tearing down a small carnival along U.S. Highway 2.
The Honda Civic was eastbound on Glen Grove-Staley Road. A Toyota pickup, driven by Jeremy Bonham, 17, of Nine Mile Falls, was northbound on Swenson Road.
The driver of the Civic didn’t stop at the stop sign, according to the Washington State Patrol. The pickup hit the passenger side of the Civic, the WSP said.
Both vehicles ended up in a field. The driver and all four passengers in the Civic spilled out of the car. None was wearing a seat belt.
Robison, Speck and Valleau died of internal injuries at the scene. Kelly and Schamp were flown to Deaconess Medical Center, where Kelly died at 9:45 p.m. and Schamp died four minutes later.
Bonham was treated for cuts to his forehead at Holy Family Hospital and released.
Services aren’t yet planned for Schamp, Valleau and Kelly. Services will be held for Speck at 2 p.m. Tuesday at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 1104 W. Heroy. Services will be held for Robison at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 34221 N. Newport Highway.
Counselors in the Deer Park School District will be available to talk to students and family members. Those interested should call 276-5051.
“I really feel for their families,” Assistant Principal Blair said. “You just don’t have any answers for this kind of thing. We’ve got great kids out here in Deer Park, and these kids were no exception.”
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