RAVENNA, Ohio - A vigil is planned for Monday evening to remember a 15-year-old girl, who died after the SUV she was driving collided with a train near her home in Ravenna Township.
A large crowd is expected at 7 p.m. at First Church of the Nazarene, where Sierra Thornton was active.
She was a sophomore at Ravenna High School. She ran for the track team, volunteered for the yearbook staff and strove for straight As.
Thornton, who had just received her temporary driver's permit, was behind the wheel for just her third time when the tragedy happened, according to Portage County Sheriff David Doak.
The girl's four younger sisters and their father, Andy Thornton, were riding inside a Dodge SUV around 6 p.m. It's not clear where the family was headed.
Sheriff Doak said moments after pulling out of the driveway, Sierra Thornton crossed private railroad tracks that do not have gates or lights.
Andy Thornton told investigators he yelled to his daughter that a train was coming, but it appeared she panicked.
Doak said the girl wasn't sure if she should go forward or put the vehicle in reverse. A fast-moving train struck the SUV and flipped it over.
Sierra Thornton was trapped inside the vehicle and died at the scene.
One of her sisters, Juliana Thornton, remained at Akron Children's Hospital as of Monday evening. She is a sixth grader at Brown Middle School.
The other sisters, Katlyn Thornton, Morgan Thornton and Paige Thornton were treated and released.
Katlyn is a freshman at the high school. Morgan is a fifth grader at Willyard Elementary. Paige is a second grader at Willyard.
Superintendent Dennis Honkala said counselors were available to students at all of the schools.
Fighting back tears, Honkala talked about Sierra Thornton and the anguish of her classmates.
"She was a good student, a quiet student, but had many, many friends. I was over at at the high school this morning and passed by her locker. Students were writing notes and leaving them on the locker," Honkala said.
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