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Archive for Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Families share memories of workers

September 12, 2007

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As the truck careened toward him, Ron Griffith thrust a fellow worker out of the way, his father said.

"One kid was coming up beside him and he pushed him out of the way just before he got hit," Mark Griffith said Tuesday, recalling what his son's co-workers told him of the fateful moment. "He was able to save him. ... He thought of everybody else all the time."

Rolland "Ron" Griffith, 24, of El Dorado, and Tyrone Korte, 30, of Seneca, died Tuesday in a hit-and-run accident on U.S. Highway 59 south of Lawrence. Both men left loved ones reeling from the sudden, tragic loss.

"He was just a good kid," Wilma Korte, of Seneca, said of her son. "It was just a crazy, stupid accident."

Griffith would have turned 25 on Sunday. His wife of two years, Melissa Griffith, is two months pregnant with their first child. She was treated at Lawrence Memorial Hospital on Tuesday after experiencing pains related to her pregnancy.

"Everything is just so much in turmoil right now," Mark Griffith said. "It just seems like a bad nightmare and you wish somebody'd pinch you and you'd wake up."

Ron Griffith spent much of his childhood in California. While the Griffith family is originally from Kansas, they lived in Dobbins, Calif., northeast of Sacramento, before returning to Kansas about a year ago to be closer to family.

Since the move, Ron Griffith had been busy buying a home and working for Dustrol Inc., a Towanda firm that does road surfacing work.

"He's a hard worker," Mark Griffith said. "He was very likable and happy-go-lucky. He loved to fish and was real athletic and everything."

Korte, an engineering technician for the Kansas Department of Transportation, also left a life beginning to take new turns.

"He had recently met someone and they were talking about marriage," said Julie Rottinghaus, Korte's aunt.

The 6'2," athletic Korte lived next door to his parents in Seneca. Several months ago, he started dating Amy Renyer, a teacher.

The couple shared a love of sports. A New York Yankees fan, Korte spent last weekend with his father, younger sister Olivia Korte, and Renyer watching the Yankees play the Kansas City Royals.

"He was one fine person," his father, Thomas Korte, said. "Just a good kid."

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