Community mourns Boiling Springs boy killed in crash on way to school

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BOILING SPRINGS, S.C. (WSAP) – Monday, Grief counselors will be on hand throughout the week at High Point Academy, where students, faculty and staff are mourning the loss of a sixth grader who died days after a crash.

The coroner said 11-year-old Ethan Frank Rubenzer of Boiling Springs died Sunday afternoon at Spartanburg Medical Center.

Troopers said Michael Eugene Kelley II, 29, of Spartanburg crashed into a car that was driven by  Patricia Rubenzer, 45, of Boiling Springs. Ethan was a passenger in that car, it overturned and hit a 2002 Toyota SUV. None of the occupants in that car were injured.

Lance Cpl. Joe Hovis with the S.C. Highway Patrol said Kelley was headed south on Boiling Springs Road (also Highway 9) when Kelley’s SUV hit a car turning left onto Boiling Springs Road from Birds Eye View.

The Rubenzers were on their way to High Point Academy at the time of the crash, school officials said. Patricia is a former employee, she worked at High Point Academy for four years. 

In October she left, but had regular contact with faculty and staff. High Point Academy’s Superintendent Christy Junkins said she spoke with the middle schools students about Ethan Monday morning.  

“Keep your family close. You know, really look at what could be the last. And know that every choice you make has a consequence. And sometimes those consequences are irreversible,” Junkins said. 

On Sunday, after Ethan’s passing, the academy released a statement:

“Ethan was a vibrant young man who always brought a smile to our faces, and he will be immensely missed. This is an incredibly difficult time for our school community.

We grieve for the loss of a young life, and our thoughts remain with the family, friends, students, staff and community members who have been impacted.

As our school community processes the tragic news and copes with grief, counseling and bereavement support services will be available to all of our students, staff, and families.

We will have extra counselors at the school on Monday and for as long as necessary in the days to come for anyone who may need or want help surrounding this loss.

We are grateful for the continued support, love, and prayers from our community. We ask everyone to keep this family in their thoughts and prayers.

We ask that you, please respect the privacy of our families during this difficult time.”

A memorial service for Ethan will be held on Wednesday at Joy Lutheran Church in Moore. Visitation is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the memorial service will begin at 6 p.m.

Friday, February 14th, would have been Ethan’s 12th birthday. To celebrate his life, the academy will host a ceremony and plant a tree in his honor. 

Kelley has been charged with two counts of felony DUI with great bodily injury and driving under a suspended license. He remains in the Spartanburg County jail as of Monday morning. 

Kelley’s bond was initially denied and has a bond revocation hearing set for Friday morning.

He was out on bond on drug charges when the crash happened, according to the solicitor’s office.

Murray Glenn with the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office says one of Kelley’s charges will be upgraded to felony DUI death.

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