“The joy that you bring us will never perish. It’s immortal you see,” Melissa “Missay” Long sang to fellow parishioners of Chestnut Ridge Baptist Church as they dedicated a playground to Tommy Tomasheski. “You’re free from all the pain and hurt. You’re free to have what you deserve.”
The dedication was the latest tribute to the Tomasheskis since the June 11 head-on car crash that killed Tomasheski, 36, and her 11-year-old son. Thomas Tomasheski, 38, Tammy’s husband, remained in critical condition Sunday night at Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland. Danielle, 13, their daughter, was in fair condition at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland.
Gerald Wetherbee Jr., the 35-year-old man who was driving without a license when police said he veered into the Tomasheskis on state Route 83 in Grafton, remained imprisoned on a parole violation at the Lorain Correctional Institution on Sunday night near where the crash occurred. Wetherbee – who has a lengthy criminal history and two drunken driving convictions – has not been charged in relation to the crash, in which police suspect he was driving drunk.
Tammy Tomasheski was a beloved youth counselor at the church known for her empathy. Thomas Tomasheski, a Lorain County Sheriff’s Office corporal, is a church deacon.
The community and church members have rallied around the family since the crash, helping them cope with their grief, family members said Sunday. Todd Tomasheski, 36, said he hopes to someday thank the community while his brother is standing next to him.
“The community support all the way around has just been immense,” he said. “One day I think there’ll be the time where we can all, as a family, can stand. That’s my goal.”
Vicki Roche, Tammy Tomasheski’s mother, said she has been “overwhelmed” by the community support. Roche, 59, of Grafton, said she spends much of her days shuttling between home and the hospitals where her son-in-law and granddaughter are.
Roche said her religious beliefs have helped her cope.
“We know our daughter and our grandson have gone on to heaven,” she said. “It’s difficult, but we’re OK.”
Friends and family members said Thomas Tomasheski remains unable to speak, but Danielle, while unable to move much, is speaking and improving. The Rev. Darrell Myers, Chestnut Ridge Baptist pastor, said people need to continue praying for the Tomasheskis’ recovery and to honor Tammy Tomasheski and Tommy Tomasheski by living better lives.
The playground outside the church has been named Area 52 in honor of Tommy Tomasheski’s Little League baseball number and a reference to Area 51, the restricted Air Force property in New Mexico and mythical site of an alien landing. Myers said the name signifies heaven being the real home of humankind.
A plaque with the name of the playground also includes a Bible quotation from Psalms 52:9, “For what you have done, I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.”
Myers ended the ceremony by invoking the quotation asking God to bless those who knew Tammy and Tommy Tomasheski. “Alright you young ‘uns play,” he told the children in the crowd of about 55.
The children, oblivious to their parents’ grief, eagerly climbed the playscape. The adults, some fighting back tears, hugged.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.