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Last updated: Sat. Oct. 06, 2012 - 04:44 pm EDT

Motorcyclist killed in crash

Police say SUV turned into path on Indiana 19

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A Warsaw man riding a motorcycle died Thursday in a crash with a sport utility vehicle, the Indiana State Police said.

At 5 p.m., authorities were sent to the crash scene at Indiana 19 and Division Road, north of Akron in Fulton County.

A preliminary investigation found that Arissa Grossman, 52, of Akron was driving a 2009 Dodge Journey east on Division Road. She stopped for a stop sign at the intersection with Indiana 19 and then started to turn north onto Indiana 19.

While turning, Grossman pulled in front of a southbound 2013 Harley-Davidson Road Glide. The motorcycle, ridden by Thomas Witmer, hit the driver’s side of the Dodge, police said.

Witmer, 39, was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene, police said.

“Despite wearing a helmet, Witmer died from blunt-force head trauma caused by the severe impact of the crash,” according to a statement from the state police.

Grossman was not hurt. She was cited for failing to yield to cross traffic, police said.

Witmer was raised in Massillon, Ohio, and attended Perry High School. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering. He went on to work as an engineering manager for Zimmer Orthopedics in Warsaw.

Just last week, Witmer had bought the candy-orange Harley he was riding. He posted a photo of the new bike on Facebook with the caption: “My new mistress,” according to Joyce McCartney, his girlfriend and also The Journal Gazette’s regional editor.

McCartney said Witmer left behind two beloved, aging pets: a German shepherd mix named Otto and a black cat named Oscar.

“Now, I want everyone to know that he’s not just another statistic,” McCartney said in a blog post. “I want them to know, from my perspective, that he was loved by me for a gazillion reasons, large and small. For silly reasons and for very serious reasons. For everything he did to become the man he was and for the potential that existed within him.”

Witmer’s sisters remembered him as someone willing to help anyone in need, from family to animals to strangers, and he most often did so anonymously.

“He had a great smile, he just never showed it,” his sister Karen Witmer said. “He had the greatest laugh.”

He is survived by his father, Norman; brother, Steve Witmer; three sisters, Karen Witmer, Cindy Steiner, Chris McCoury; and 11 nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother, Audrey, in 1996.

His funeral services in Ohio are pending.

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