Archive for Monday, October 31, 2011

Tonganoxie graduate among those killed in grain elevator explosion

October 31, 2011

Ali George and her boyfriend, Dylan Young, hung out often with Tonganoxie High School classmate Chad Roberts and his fiancée, Alicia Cobleigh.

George called their hanging out “a double-date thing.” In fact, George and Young were to be in their friends’ wedding in November.

This past weekend, Roberts, a 2010 THS graduate, was one of six who died in a grain elevator explosion at the Bartlett Grain Co. facility in Atchison.

“He was always happy,” George said, describing Roberts. “He was a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy. He was very caring. He would do anything for his friends.”

Roberts and Cobleigh were to be married Nov. 19, George said. They also were planning a spring honeymoon cruise in the Bahamas.

Ali George is best friends with Cobleigh, whom she met through Roberts. Cobleigh went to school at nearby Pleasant Ridge High School.

Roberts, 20, was one of three Bartlett employees found during the weekend, according to the Associated Press. Also found during the weekend were Bartlett employees Ryan Federinko, 21, and John Burke, 24.

The final three victims’ bodies were recovered Monday morning, according to Bob Knief, a Bartlett senior vice president, AP reports said.

Two others were injured in the blast and taken to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. A hospital official there said Monday afternoon that one was one listed in critical condition and the other in serious condition.

George’s mother, Tammie George, principal at Tonganoxie Elementary School, first knew Roberts as a student in the elementary school. She described him as “very quiet and very well-behaved” as a youngster.

Roberts’ death was the third among Tonganoxie’s Class of 2010.

Connor Olson died after a long battle with bone cancer, while Jeremy Elliott died in his sleep from a heart condition, both during their senior year at THS.

“It does really make you rethink your life — what your next move is,” Ali George said. “It makes you think about it again. It keeps you on your toes at all times, I guess.”

Ali George said Roberts’ funeral was planned for Friday in Topeka.

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