2 boys, one from New Jersey, die as vehicle hits tree in Finksburg

Three others, also teenagers, hurt

their names not released

Metro

News from around the Baltimore region

September 06, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

One boy had come from New Jersey, as he did just about every summer, to visit a friend in Carroll County. The other boy, a wrestler, had begun his junior year at Westminster High School last week.

Early yesterday morning, both boys -- Keith M. Flem, 16, and Zachary D. Ondrish, 16 -- were sitting in the back seat of a 1998 Jeep Wrangler that veered off a sharply curving road in Finksburg and plowed into a large tree.

Flem, of Pine Hill, N.J., and Ondrish, of Westminster, were killed in the crash. Three others boys in the vehicle, all teenagers under the age of 18, were injured, but their names and conditions were not released yesterday by the Maryland State Police.

The three surviving occupants were flown by state police MedEvac helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said. One had been ejected from the Jeep, while two others were partially ejected, police said.

Authorities said they believe that alcohol and speed were factors in the crash on Slasmans Road. None of the teenagers was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Yesterday evening, the families of Ondrish and Flem were struggling with grief and seeking more information about the circumstances that led to the accident.

Albert Ondrish Jr., father of Zachary, said in a telephone interview that he last saw his son early Sunday evening, hanging out with friends, as they came and went from his Westminster home. The accident happened about 1:40 a.m. Police notified his family at about 5:30 a.m., he said.

"Terrible," Ondrish said, stunned. "I just can't believe it. I still can't believe it. This happened hardly five minutes from where we live."

His son is survived by three brothers and three sisters, Ondrish said.

Carol Flem, who adopted and raised Keith Flem, a grandson, from an early age, said in a telephone interview that he had been staying with a friend that he knew from Pine Hill, N.J. That friend had moved with his family to Maryland several years ago, but they still visited each other. That boy, however, was not traveling in the Jeep.

"From what I understand, they went to get something to eat, or were on their way to get something to eat," Flem said about the boys' late-night trip.

Flem said her grandson liked to fish and work on cars. He hoped to become a mechanic someday. He had been staying with Jeanette Berger and her son, Ryan Batot, 17, at their Finksburg home since July 31.

Berger yesterday said that her son and Flem, who had known each other since kindergarten, "were like brothers."

Berger remembers the boys in the Jeep stopping by her home Sunday night, asking Flem and her son if they wanted to go out. Flem went, but her son stayed behind because he was doing homework, Berger said.

"It's absolutely overwhleming," Berger said. "There's really nothing. ... It's devastating."

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