- Grove City, Pennsylvania

August 28, 2013

Teen loses life after saving boy, 6

Allied and Herald Staff
Allied News

SPRINGFIELD — A 15-year-old boy was killed and his mother was hurt when they were hit by a truck at 11:45 p.m. Thursday while they were fishing at a Springfield Township farm pond, state police said.

The boy, Austin J. Rife of Dayton, Ohio, was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. Friday in Grove City Medical Center, Pine Township. He died of head and chest wounds, according to a news release by Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle III, who referred additional questions to state police.

He was fishing with his family and his mother, Stephani L. Rife, of Kettering, Ohio, who was treated at the hospital for what police described as moderate injuries.

They were fishing at a farm pond about 240 feet from Old Ash Road when they were hit by a truck driven by a 25-year-old New Castle woman, police said.

She was driving south on the road and went off the left side into a pasture, traveling 240 feet before her truck hit the Rifes, police said.

Her name isn't being published because she has not been charged, according to online court documents as of Tuesday morning.

Police said she was arrested for drunken driving and that additional charges are pending.

According to the Dayton Daily News:

Austin's parents say he saved 6-year-old Logan Thompson from serious injury, grabbing Logan while everyone else ran from the truck. Thompson suffered minor injuries, Stephani Rife said.

"The last thing I remember is him screaming mom, but I couldn't get to him," Stephani Rife told reporter Sharahn Boykin. "He sacrificed his life to save someone else. He put everyone before himself."

Around 11 p.m. Thursday, Austin, his parents, his 13-year-old brother Dalton, and Logan, a family friend, went fishing on Old Ash Road. The pond is on a farm that belonged to a friend.

"He wanted to move there because he loved it so much," said Austin's father Jeremy during an interview with the Dayton Daily News in their home on Sunday.

The Rife family traveled to Pennsylvania at least once a year to escape everyday life. Austin, a junior at Kettering Fairmont High School, enjoyed the outdoors in the Grove City area, and spent his time fishing and riding dirt bikes. Dana Wagner, a Clayton resident and close family friend, called Austin "a selfless kid. He was always worried about people, especially little people," she said.

Austin, who would have been 16 years old in September, had planned to divide his time between Fairmont and Centerville High School, where he had been accepted into a culinary program.

The teen expressed interest in becoming a chef or a law enforcement SWAT team member. In 2011, he completed the Kettering Police Department Citizen's Academy.

Those close to Austin said there were two things he loved - basketball and shoes.

Jerry Tanner, a friend of Austin's, remembered the teen joking that he had saved a lot of money for college, but he planned to go to community college so he could use most of the money to buy more sneakers.

During a private memorial in Pennsylvania, Austin's family threw the sneakers he was wearing when he was killed into the pond where they were fishing, his parents said.

"It knocked him out of his shoes, and he loved his shoes," said Austin's father, referring to the pickup truck.

Published Aug. 14, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.