Glenelg High grieves for two bubbly girls who perished in Route 32 car crash

March 03, 1992|By Donna E. Boller and Lan Nguyen | Donna E. Boller and Lan Nguyen,Staff Writers

Students wept and hugged each other in the halls of Glenelg High School yesterday, trying to absorb the shock of the deaths of two of their friends in an automobile accident Friday night.

Five Glenelg students were involved in the two-car crash. Of those in one car, juniors Jenny E. Olson and Deann E. Perry died and junior Joanna Tammaro was injured seriously and taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

In the other car were 17-year-old seniors Andrew N. Kissinger, whose condition yesterday at Howard County General Hospital was stable, and Dominic M. Palacorolla, who was not seriously injured.

Jenny, 16, lived in West Friendship.

She was a member of the Glenelg High drill team, which had been scheduled to compete Saturday in the annual "Liberty Belle Classic" at Magruder High School in Rockville.

Instead, other members of the team and their parents met at the school Saturday morning to share their grief. They were joined by some of Joanna's teammates on the school's girls basketball team and some lacrosse players who knew the students.

Jenny "was the sunshine of the team," said drill team sponsor Jill Rawlings. "She never complained. She was always the one pulling practical jokes and keeping everyone laughing."

Deann Perry, 16, was less well known at Glenelg, having moved to Cooksville in November from New Jersey and transferring to the school.

Heather Mitchell, a junior and drill team member, said Jenny took the new student under her wing. "Deann was just like Jenny, outgoing, bubbly," Heather said. "She made friends instantly."

Jenny was an honor student, features editor on the school newspaper and a competitor in local and state 4-H horse shows. Her mother, Stephanie Olson, recalled that when she fell off she always got back on and tried again.

"Kids and parents have to love each other," Mrs. Olson said. "You never know what's going to happen. They walk out the door. You don't get to say good-bye, and they're gone."

RTC Jenny, Deann and Joanna had left home at 7 p.m. Friday to visit her grandmother -- who was recovering from a stroke -- at the Lorien Nursing Home on Cedar Lane, according to Mrs. Olson.

They apparently were on their way home from the ice skating rink in Columbia shortly before 11 p.m., police said, when Jenny, driving north on Route 32, turned left at Route 144 into the path of the southbound car driven by Dominic Palacorolla.

Both drivers apparently were trying to hurry through a yellow light, said police spokesman Sgt. Gary L. Gardner. Friends said Jenny was trying to get home to meet her curfew.

A police statement said there was no indication that alcohol was involved in the accident.

Joanna Tammaro, 16, of Cooksville, suffered a broken knee and a broken collarbone. She was discharged from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday.

Young Palacorolla was treated at Howard County General Hospital after the accident and released.

Glenelg and the community joined in the face of the tragedy, Principal James McGregor said yesterday. School officials tried to maintain as normal a school day as possible.

Members of the county school system's crisis intervention team -- psychologists, pupil personnel workers and a health assistant -- were available to talk with students who wanted to discuss the accident.

Some drill team members who had dealt with their initial shock and grief Saturday volunteered as peer counselors.

Mr. McGregor estimated that perhaps 100 of the school's 900 students came to talk with counselors yesterday morning about the accident.

The Rev. Scott A. Medlock, pastor of Lisbon United Methodist Church, where several of the drill team attend, met with the group Saturday morning.

"It's important for people who face these kind of tragedies to know that others feel the pain and hurt they're feeling, and also anger," Mr. Medlock said.

Glenelg is a "spread out, rural community, but still very close," said high school PTSA President David S. Brunson.

"When one parent loses a child, no one can go through what that parent is going through, but everyone feels a sense of loss," Mr. Brunson said.

Jenny's father, Paul Olson, said of his daughter that he will always remember "her spirit, her smile."

"I really think she was an angel just on loan with us for awhile," Mrs. Olson said.

As a result of a second accident Friday night, another Glenelg student, 18-year-old Dana Ratliff of Mount Airy, was reported in satisfactory and stable condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday.

Police said she suffered ligament damage when her car was struck by another car that crossed the center line after being struck in the rear by a third car. That accident occurred on Route 27 near Mount Airy.

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