Four family members killed in Vinton County crash; one would have graduated this weekend

ATHENS, OH (WCMH) – One of the victims in Wednesday’s fatal garbage truck versus car accident was set to graduate from high school this weekend.

Thomas Hamel, 18, was a senior at Athens High School. His sister Emma, 19, and his mother Lisa Foerster, 55, all lived in Athens and died in the crash. Foerster’s sister, Lori Alsterberg, 57 of Tigard, Oregon was also killed.

Many of the senior class learned of Hamel’s passing during Thursday’s senior class trip to Cedar Point.

Social studies teacher Fitz Read said graduation will be tough, and remembered Hamel’s maturity and humor.

“I think Tom was ready to be an adult,” Read said. “He talked to you like he was an adult. Great maturity. Quick with a joke at the same time.

“It’s just a real shame. He was an awesome, awesome kid.”

According to the university, Foerster was an assistant professor of voice, taught applied voice and opera theater courses within the Ohio University School of Music.

Emma Hamel was a Resident Advisor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.

Lewis & Clark College released the following statement in regards to Emma:

Dear Lewis & Clark community members,

We are deeply saddened to inform you that Emma Hamel, along with her mother, brother, and aunt, died last night in a car accident in Ohio.

Emma had just completed her sophomore year and was pursuing a major in German Studies. A student leader, Emma served as a resident advisor and worked in the Overseas and Off-Campus Programs office, helping fellow students explore international opportunities.

We know that this is very difficult news to hear, as many of you knew Emma as a friend and fellow student. As we all struggle with this loss, please keep Emma and her family in your thoughts.

We encourage you to reach out to your personal support network or the Counseling Center at 503-768-7160 during this difficult time.  Additionally, please know that Mark Duntley, our Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life (duntley@lclark.edu503-768-7082), and Valerie White, our Ombudsperson (valeriew@lclark.edu503-768-7336), are available for counsel. The College also has an after-hours counseling service available at 503-265-7804.


Catherine Gunther Kodat, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Anna Gonzalez, Dean of Students

Graduation is Saturday, May 21 at 11am at Athens High School.

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