Port Clinton wrestler dies in truck crash

PORT CLINTON A 17-year-old Port Clinton student died in a head-on collision Christmas Eve while on h
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


A 17-year-old Port Clinton student died in a head-on collision Christmas Eve while on his way to wrestling practice.

As Jonathan T. Pope lay dead in his truck on Ohio 53, his dad, the high school wrestling coach, awaited his star wrestler's arrival.

Jonathan died instantly upon impact with a dark blue 1999 Dodge Dakota. Troopers said the Dakota, driven by 73-year-old Omer F. Swartz Jr., swerved into the teen's lane while trying to pass a student driver headed south on Ohio 53. Jonathan was driving north at about 9 a.m. when the two trucks intersected.

The impact collapsed the front end of the young man's black 1988 Chevrolet S10. The steering wheel bent into the seat. Broken metal, plastic and other debris scattered on the road.

Covered in a white sheet, Jonathan's body was taken away by Neidecker, LeVeck and Crosser funeral home.

Swartz's truck, emblazoned with Support Our Troops stickers and an American flag, also sustained severe front-end damage. A tire came to rest in a nearby yard.

A medical helicopter took Swartz to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where he remained in fair condition Thursday afternoon.

The student driver of the car Swartz tried to get past knew Jonathan and was permitted to leave the scene of the crash because of her emotional state, said Trooper Chris Capizzi of the Sandusky post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. He later collected her statement.

Mark Segaard heard the impact of the collision from his home. The trucks came to a rest adjacent to his home in this residential area dotted with farm fields.

"I heard a crunk and a scrap and I called 911," Segaard said. "It was pretty bad."

The force of the collision pushed the trucks 80 feet from the impact point, indicated by groves cut into the asphalt by the power train and engine block of Jonathan's truck.

The crash remains under investigation and no charges have been filed.

Football coach Toby Hammond remembered Jonathan as a great kid who will be sorely missed.

School officials told Hammond about the teen's death and Thursday afternoon he drove to the family's 216 E. Seventh St. home to offer support.

"Right now you're just too shocked to think," he said. "He always had a great smile. He liked to joke."

Hammond coached Jonathan in football and also taught a class in which the boy earned A's.

Just the night before Jonathan and his father, Thomas Pope, celebrated the teen's win of his wrestling match.

"He was a great kid. He worked hard for his coaches. He worked hard in everything he did," said athletic director Carey Clum. "He handled himself like a gentleman should."


Azure Ray

Well, Nicole, it's news. It's the biggest news in the Sandusky area, whether it be sad or happy. Sorry there's nothing about Santa or his elves there.

God bless this family - I can't even imagine going through this on Christmas Eve. He seems like an amazing person.

40 Hour Worker

This is really a shame.

I hope the idiot who caused this accident because he couldn't have a little bit of patience while on the road realizes the tragedy he has brought to this family, and on Christmas too.

Hurry, hurry, hurry. Got to pass, got to pass, got to pass. I hope it was worth it, Omar Swartz.


Tragic...........re-test this oldster.

Ghost Town

Don't be so fast to critize Mr Schwartz. The article doesn't give the information about which direction the vehicles were pushed but it did say the vehicles were pushed 80 feet from point of impact. One of the vehicles had to be going a lot faster then the other to do this since they were both pickups and about the same weight. Perhaps Mr.Pope was late for wrestling practice since his father was waiting for him to show up. What ever the Highway Patrol accident reconstrution team comes up with will never bring back Mr. Pope.


What a tragedy. About thirty-two years ago one of my sister's classmates was killed in a one car accident on Christmas Eve. We found out the next day. There isn't a Christmas that I don't remember, so I can only imagine what it's like for the family.

My thoughts go out to the family, friends and classmates of this young man.

I would also say that I understand the anger at the driver who was at fault in this accident. I would not want to have his life going forward...he will wear this forever.

Yeah, I know I'm going to get "at least he has a life". And he has earned the sentence of living with his mistake.

But this is a tragedy for all involved. This person has a family and loved ones that had no more to do with his fatal error then the family of the young man who lost his life. My thoughts are with them as well.


Prayers to the Pope's and all those who love Jonathon. A great young man who will be missed!


Dear Ghost Town,
You are correct that the article does not share every detail of the accident. Jonathan was the victim of a careless driver who was passing a student driver and hit him head on. Contrary to what is typical, it was not the teenager who was at fault.

Please keep in mind it is not your job to speculate on what happened, we only would ask for your prayers at this time. Our family is forever changed by this tragedy.


Back when I was in high school at Port Clinton HS we lost two classmates in my junior year much in the same way a head on accident. The fall of my senior year another student was killed in an accident as he tried to pass a car on Catawba road and went head on into another car.

Reading about this young man brings back so much of the memories of that tragic time. I am so sorry that the high school students of today at Port Clinton HS again have to grieve in the way we did.

We plan at our Christmas dinner today to include the family and friends of this wonderful young man in our prayers. Would it not be comforting for all who new and loved this young man to know that folks all over the area are including the family in their prayers. This young man will be remembered at our table today for the wonderful life he lived.


My prayers go out to the family of this bright and talented young man. What a horrible loss!!!

I hope the family considerd donating his organs to help save the life of another person. I think it would be comforting to know that part of such a strong young man would live on, in light of such a horrible situation.

God bless all the souls involved!

Wills Mom

Dear Ghost Town,
While you seem to have the time to read and comment on this and probably many articles, perhaps you missed other articles stating that the Dodge (Mr. Schwartz's vehicle) was attempting to pass a vehicle traveling southbound and struck the Chevy (John Pope's) that was northbound head on." and took the life of this innocent young man whom I and my son have had the honor of knowing most of his life. You claim one vehicle had to be going alot faster than the other??? That would normally be the passing vehicle. Charges are pending in this case. Mr. Schwartz is looking at VEHICULAR HOMICIDE, also from the other articles..so the Sandusky Register doesn't have all the facts. In the end, the Jonathan we all loved is gone forever. Letting Will know (my son) was the hardest thing I ever had to do and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Tom, Carolyn, Evan and Nick, I love you all so very much and you know words cannot express what we are feeling!


"As Jonathan T. Pope lay dead in his truck on Ohio 53, his dad, the high school wrestling coach, awaited his star wrestler's arrival"

I can't believe the reporter is insensitive on how she worded this; this sounds terrible!!! Where did the hell did you get your reporter skills?

This is a tragic loss........


To the young man's family - so sorry for your loss. Years ago my friend was killed in similar fashion by an old man. Re- test for safety.


This is so VERY sad. It makes my heart hurt. I am SO sorry for your loss. :`(

columbus avenue

How many have to die before this stupid state passes ANNUAL SENIOR TESTING??????

The state needs money? Here is one way to increase revenue. institue Annual Senior Drivers Exams.
Also, add REQUIRED operators licenses for boaters. That way they will (hopefully) at least know the rules of the road which currently they do not.

columbus avenue

Poor kid. What a horrific story.


mr. pope is a teacher at my son's school. the kids are in disbelief, as am i. i dont know mr. pope personally, but as a parent,my heart bleeds for him and his family.what a horrible,horrible incident.i just want to cry.God bless his family.


oh and sandusky register, as someone who has seen their dead brothers body on your front page, i have to say your reporting and wording of this story leave ALOT to be desired. i dont care"if its news", this is someones baby, brother, nephew,etc..... i know how i felt and its not a good feeling. grow a heart and write as if it was YOUR loved one.

American Freedom

This story is a very tragic one...my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends.

I also must say to the Sandusky register.... Shame on you for allowing this to be printed in the fashion that it was written. A softer style would have been much better. Ms. Topey you might need to re-examine your writing style and maybe have a long talk with your conscience. You shouldn't be going for a Pulitzer with a story like this.

Again my thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends and peers of this child.


The student driver was a he not a she and a statement was taken right after accident by a sheriffs deputy not a trooper. This would of been upsetting to any teenager let alone to one that knew Jonathan. Our prayers are with the Pope family.


I was the student driver and yes i am a male and yes i did give a statement to a deputy on the scene and i also am one of popes friends people have been reading comments saying how seniors should be tested and how the author of this article has no heart wether that is true or not now is not the time to state those things now is the time to keep your prayers up for the pope family and all of his friends
I Love You Jonathan my prayers are with you and your family


To the Pope family:
You do not know me but I felt heartbrokened in reading this article yesterday online. Losing a loved one is never easy and it is especially hard when it is so senseless. My heart goes out to you for the loss of a beautiful young man who had so much to live for in life.
May I offer my prayers and sympathies to not only Jonathan's family but also, to all of his friends.
They say that often the good die young and I firmly believe that God has something special that he needed Jonathan for up in heaven. Always remember all the special happy times you shared and now you have a beautiful angel looking over you and will be waiting to meet you when it is your time to be with God!
God Bless and may your young man rest in peace.
A Mom who cares!


moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements.


I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family of this young man. You do not know me and I do not know you but I have lost a family member in a tragic accident like this and my family and I have felt your pain. Just wanted to let you know my heart and thoughts are with you and your family. God bless you as you move forward.


moderators have removed this comment because it contained libelous or defamatory statements.


To those who criticize the fact that this story made the news: No, it's not happy news. But whether you personally like it or not, it IS news.

To those who criticize the reporter's lack of empathy: You're right, though probably not for the reasons you think you are. Reporters are SUPPOSED to report the facts. To say that the student was a wrestler and his father the wrestling coach is fine. But to word it the way she did in what is apparently a ham-handed attempt to pull at readers' heartstrings is something a WRITER might do, but never, never, NEVER an ethical reporter.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: A young man was killed for no other reason than that another driver was impatient. That's a pretty lousy reason for a pretty serious consequence in my mind. It's no comfort to those who lost a loved one yesterday, but we still all ought to learn something from that fact.

To the Pope family: There's nothing anyone can say or do, I'm sure, to mitigate your loss. Even so, please know that there are many of us -- friends and strangers alike -- who are thinking of you and wishing you comfort and peace.


Hometown I agree poorly,written article!! Horrible choice of words!!! Ms. Topey you owe this family an apology!! Shame on you!!! Sympathy to the family!!! God Bless!!


Such a sad thing especially at Christmas! Even though I don't know any of you.....you are all in my heart and prayers! I am in NO WAY condoning what happened...but I am sure that Mr. Swartz is hurting for the tragedy that has occured...So I am including him in my prayers as well...I do have to agree with a few of you in saying the way the SR put this in the paper is horrible!!! I hope you learn to word your stories better....!


My thoughts and prayers go out to both families during this very difficult time.


To the Pope family, My deepest sympathy to you in this heartbreaking time.
To Ms. Topey, take comfort in the fact that no matter how you might have written this story someone would have criticized you.


I wanted to rip the story in pieces. I thought the story was a joke and Melissa Topey you should be ashamed of yourself wrting crap like this...As Jonathan T. Pope lay dead in his truck on Ohio 53, his dad, the high school wrestling coach, awaited his star wrestler's arrival.....Covered in a white sheet, Jonathan's body was taken away by Neidecker, LeVeck and Crosser funeral home...What if that was your brother,mother,father or any family member I dont think you would print crap like that. Also it is Christmas, yes its a story but you dont have to blow it up, there is no reason to have any pictures posted, dont you think the family is hurt enough without having to see that again. And Westerhold how can you look in the mirror and ok something like this to be ran on a day of Christmas celebration that turned into tragedy for Pope family. My prayers go out to the entire family may God be with you and Jonathen be your guardian angel to watch over you.