A 15-year-old Upshur County girl was killed in a car accident Wednesday after the vehicle she was riding in flipped several times on Route 20 before striking a telephone pole.
Although police have not released the names of the teens involved, numerous Facebook posts name the victim as Abby Hoge, 15, and the driver as her boyfriend, Kendall Tenney, 16.
The accident occurred at
3:52 p.m. when a Ford Ranger pick-up driven by Tenney was traveling north on Route 20 about three-tenths of a mile before the Sago Road intersection, near Good Hope Tabernacle Church.
“For reasons that are still under investigation, he lost control coming downhill, departed the roadway surface and overturned numerous times in the ditch area there alongside the roadway,” W.Va. State Trooper Roy Moss said. “The vehicle then impacted a utility pole and came to a rest upright facing to the south.”
Hoge sustained traumatic injuries to her head and was pronounced dead at the scene, while Tenney suffered non-fatal injuries and was taken by Upshur County EMS to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
He was observed overnight and released Thursday, according to Moss.
The driver told police he had moved over to make room for a truck coming up the hill, but the cause of the accident remains under investigation and Moss could not answer if speed was a factor.
“Our reconstructionist is still doing the math,” he said Wednesday night. “In his statement given at the hospital, however, the driver did note that there had been a large truck coming up the hill making that same curve and the driver had moved over to the right to give him some clearance.”
However, Moss said that no truck had stopped at the scene and there were no witnesses to verify that claim.
Alcohol was not a factor; Moss said Tenney was tested at the scene and had no indication of alcohol use.
Moss also said the teens were wearing their seatbelts.
“It’s not perfectly clear whether she was wearing hers correctly,” he said. “That may never be perfectly clear.”
Moss said Thursday afternoon that state police had been unable to determine the exact speed the truck was traveling at the time of the accident.
“We are not sure how much success we are going to have out of that effort,” he said.
When asked why police could not release the names of those involved, Moss said, “Department policy on that is anytime a juvenile is pending with a charge, we cannot release a name.”
He would not say what citations might follow, but when questioned about the graduated licensing program, which sets restrictions for the different levels of an instructional permit and license for drivers 15 through 17 years old, he said, “That’s one of a few things we are looking at.”
According to DMV materials published online, a 16-year-old driver cannot have non-family member passengers under the age of 20 for six months. They can then have one passenger.
Hoge, the daughter of Kim Howard and Donnie Hoge, was a rising sophomore at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and had been a cheerleader at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
Arrangements for Hoge were incomplete at Poling St. Clair Funeral Home as of press time. Visit www.polingstclair.com for updates.
Christian Fellowship Church’s youth group will also open their doors tonight from 5-8 p.m. for students and families to gather to be with friends in a safe environment, according to an email from youth pastor Quinten Oldaker.
Friends flocked to Facebook to pass on their condolences. Many expressed shock and sorrow, while others fondly recalled favorite memories from years past, from trips to the beach to bear hunts. Everyone from elementary schoolmates who had drifted apart to high school friends that had synchronized their sophomore schedules — and even complete strangers — posted notes of sympathy on a Facebook page created in Hoge’s memory which had attracted more than 1,200 followers as of Thursday afternoon.
On Hoge’s personal wall, Torrie Ward wrote, “Abby, we were never close until this year and I am going to miss you so much. You were always cracking jokes and making everyone smile. You never had a bad thing to say to anyone and I admired that. I will keep the socks you got me forever :) I don’t know why this happened but I know that God has a plan and we all need to trust that. I will be praying for Kendall and your family. We love you and you will forever stay in our hearts. R.I.P. Abby.”
Hoge’s cousin, Taylor Jack, also left a comment, writing, “You touched so many people sweetheart, please watch over our family and friends as we move forward. I can’t wait for you to show me the ropes of Heaven, I love you forever. Rest in peace.”
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching message came at about noon on Thursday, when a post from Kendall Tenney’s Facebook account appeared on the “R.I.P. Abby Hoge” page.
It read, “You’ll always be in my heart and I’ll never forget you. Thank you for the wonderful year I got to spend with you. You’ll always be the prettiest girl in the universe.”