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Caring teacher, 'bright light' and a trio of big hearts lost in crash that killed Mason family

Posted at 4:56 AM, Mar 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-19 00:09:55-04

MORAINE, Ohio — On July 19, 2016, Taft Elementary School teacher Karen Thompson took time out of her summer vacation to surprise a pair of students with a trip to Dave & Buster’s.

A video posted to Facebook shows the moment she appeared at one family’s door. The student screams with delight, walks toward her and is immediately enfolded in a hug.

“She loved those kids as if they were her own,” another student’s mother wrote Monday night on Facebook.

Thompson died Sunday night in a crash that also claimed the life of her husband, 51-year-old Timmy Thompson, and their 10-year-old daughter, Tessa.

According the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the family had been traveling southbound on Interstate 75 when another driver, heading northbound in the wrong lane, hit them. A 911 caller reported seeing the cars crash head-on.

"I'm pretty sure no one survived," the caller said. "It is awful."

Police believe alcohol was a factor in the wrong-way driver getting in the southbound lanes, WCPO news partner WHIO reported.

"We don’t know if they crossed over, if they got on an exit, went up the wrong way on the entrance ramp or what," Moraine police Detective Sgt. Andrew Parish told WHIO. "But at some point they crossed over, got into the wrong lanes and struck this family head-on."

Tessa Thompson was a student at St. Susanna Parish School, Mason City Schools spokeswoman Tracey Carson said. Mason City Schools are sending counselors to the school to help students.

In a statement, Archdiocese of Cincinnati officials called Tessa "a bright light who had a great effect on students and staff."

"St. Susanna Parish School and Catholic community expresses heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the Thompson family and their friends affected by this tragedy," the archdiocese said. "The school would also appreciate your thoughts and prayers for them during this time of loss. Counselors were on hand first-thing Monday morning and will remain available for emotional support for the entire school community."

Mark Thompson, Tim’s younger brother, said his brother was smart and did well for himself. He said the trio could have been visiting Karen’s family in Maumee when they crashed.

"They all had big hearts," he said. "(Tim and Karen) took care of me when my mom died. They were my everything."

Neighbor Terri Holt recalled watching Timmy Thompson walk Tessa to the school bus.

"It hasn't even sunk in for me right now, because they're such a beautiful family," Holt said.

The Kia driver remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit. Police have not released the driver's name.

The crash is still under investigation. Anyone with information should call Moraine police at 937-535-1166.