UPDATE: Students return to Grafton H.S. after tragic death of classmate

Published: Apr. 20, 2019 at 11:44 PM EDT
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UPDATE 4/23/19

Tuesday was the first day back from spring break for students at Grafton High School, but the hallways on this day were missing a recognizable face.

Makenzie Deditch, a senior at the school just weeks away from her 18th birthday and graduation, was killed in a head-on collision with her grandfather Friday evening in Indiana County Pennsylvania.

Police said another driver lost control of his car in the rain, crashing into Makenzie and her grandfather, Willard Allshouse. He was 67.

Lori Shumaker is the principal at Grafton High School. She said she called Makenzie's mother to offer the school's condolences the day after the crash.

"I don't think any of us can imagine what her family is going through," Shumaker said.

She said Makenzie was an actively-involved standout student. She was in AP classes and a leader in the band. She recently qualified for the national Future Business Leaders of America competition, just completing fundraising to go compete in June in Texas.

She intended to join the Air Force after graduation and eventualy pursue a law degree.

"She got involved," Shumaker said. "She didn't just get involved to show up. She took leadership roles. She definitely had a lot of drive, a lot of spirit."

She also had the lead role in one of two upcoming school plays. She was set to be a lawyer in a play about drunk driving ahead of prom night. The students decided not to move forward with that show, but they'll still perform one she was also set to have a role in later this year and do it in her memory.

"At graduation, it will weigh on them," Shumaker said. "There will be an empty seat there to honor her memory."

On the first day back to school following the tragedy, administrators held a schoolwide assembly to honor her memory and talk about the grieving process with students. Numerous counselors and pastors are on hand for students all week.

Students will be dismissed from classes later this week for her funeral service.

In the meantime, she hopes students will support each other during this tough week.

"They recognize that life is more fragile and they should focus on more positive things," Shumaker said. "Traditionally, I think they'll bond and it will increase those friendships and relationships between them."

Deditch's viewing is scheduled for Thursday from 3-7 p.m. and Friday from 9-11 a.m. at First Baptist Church. Her funeral is Friday at 11 a.m. at the church.


Pennsylvania State Police say 17-year-old Makenzie Marie Deditch of Grafton, W.Va. was driving in the westbound lane on Route 286, in Center Township, when 54-year-old David B. Wilson lost control of his car going eastbound.

Wilson cross the center line and struck Deditch's car head-on.

In Deditch's car was also a passenger, 67-year-old Willard Francis Allshouse Jr. of Saltsburg, PA.

According to officials, both Deditch and Allshouse were killed in the accident.

Police say after Wilson hit Deditch's car he also hit another car. 45-year-old Elizabeth Bush of Blairsville, PA suffered moderate injuries.

Wilson was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police say the road was wet when the accident happened, but they haven't released the cause of the crash just yet.

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