August 22, 2014

Elyria
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Vigil, prayers for teacher and driver critically hurt in Russia Road crash

HENRIETTA TWP. — Car crash victim Jim Muth’s colleagues, friends and students sought recovery Wednesday for the man serves as an inspiration to them.

“Lord, we need a miracle,” said the Rev. Charles Livermore, associate pastor at the Kipton Community Church in Kipton, as 400 people holding candles ringed the football field at Firelands High School, where Muth teaches history and formerly coached volleyball. “Lord, repair and heal and mend that body.”

Prayers also were said for Donald Kneisel, the westbound driver who police said drove into the eastbound lane of Russia Road and collided with Muth about 3:10 p.m. Tuesday in New Russia Township.

Both men were listed in critical condition Thursday morning at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Muth, a 39-year-old husband and father of a 7-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, was described at the vigil as perpetually energetic and enthusiastic — a devout Christian who asked his students to push their bodies and minds beyond their perceived limits and a coach who made his players run a lap each time they uttered the word “can’t.”

“He referred to it as ‘the c-word,’ and it had no place in his or his players’ vocabulary. There was nothing you could not accomplish,” said senior Marilee McCoy, who played volleyball for three years for Muth. “We all stand here today, his students, his players, his family and his friends, in honor of a man who has touched our lives in the most exquisite way.”

Muth was on his way to Grafton to pick up his children when he crashed and is in a medically induced coma after having undergone surgery for a swollen brain, according to Firelands Principal Richard Reighley, who said he visited Muth and his family Wednesday.

Reighley, Firelands principal since 2006, said he hopes the fact that Muth is relatively young and in good physical shape will allow him to recover.

“This is great,” Reighley said of Wednesday’s vigil. “The community’s behind him.”

Kneisel, 79, of New Russia Township, was about a quarter-mile from his home when he drove into the eastbound lane in an apparent attempt to pass a westbound driver. Kneisel is a husband, father and a retired mason who formerly worked for a concrete company, according to relatives.

Alan Kneisel, 73, a distant cousin of Donald, said Donald Kneisel is an active member of Brownhelm Congregational Church in Vermilion. Alan Kneisel, who said he last saw Donald at a family reunion in July, described him as a very likeable person who carves wood in his spare time and in younger days liked to golf and play softball.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.