Six-year-old cousins and best friends Penelope Jasko and Eleanor McBride had just played in their first soccer game of the season with the St. Peter Catholic Church team when they were killed by a stolen police car going 97 mph.
Melissa Jasko, Penelope’s mother, was driving a minivan with six of her children and one of her sister’s children, Eleanor, when the crash occurred. The family had dropped off a library book and was pulling away from the curb when the stolen cruiser ran a red light at South Patterson Boulevard and struck the minivan and one other car.
Dayton Police said Raymond Walters Jr. stabbed his father in a pickup truck, then crashed that truck and stole a Riverside police cruiser that eventually crashed into Jasko’s vehicle, killing Eleanor and Penelope.
“They were born nearly together, they did most everything together, and they left together,” said the girls’ step-grandfather, Ted Blackshear. “They were best friends.”
Penelope and Eleanor were pronounced dead at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Two of the Jasko children are still in the hospital, one in critical condition.
Fr. Tony Cutcher, the head pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church in Huber Heights, said Penelope and Eleanor had just come from their first Pre-SAY soccer game when the crash happened. Both the Jasko and McBride families were part of his parish.
Cutcher said according to church records, both Penelope and Eleanor were baptized at St. Peter.
“They were more like twin sisters than cousins,” Cutcher said. “They were so close.”
Melissa and Chris Jasko have children ranging from age 14 to about 2 months. All the Jasko children are home-schooled except for the oldest, who is a freshman at Chaminade Julienne High School.
Eleanor was the daughter of Sarah and Steve McBride. Sarah and Melissa are sisters.
In the car with Melissa were Penelope, Eleanor and all but one of Penelope’s siblings, including a two-month-old, according to family friend, Cathy Mong.
When Melissa saw the police cruiser coming, “she stayed at the curb because that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Mong said.
The Dayton Fire Department has strong ties to the Jasko and McBride families. Blackshear is married to Mary Ann Jasko, a retired lieutenant with the fire department. Mary Ann is the grandmother of Penelope Jasko, who was killed in the crash.
Steve Dunham, president of Dayton’s firefighters union, said the union has reached out to the families to see what help they may need.
Cutcher said the church will try to help as needed, too.
The families were regular church-goers at St. Peter and active in the parish athletic program.
“You would look out on any given Sunday and see the children with their grandparents,” Cutcher said. “They were an amazing family, always a great family.”
A Catholic church in the area created two funds at Fifth Third Bank for the families. Those who wish to donate to the families can do so by depositing money into an account ending in “0546” in the Jasko name or into an account ending in “0553” in the McBride name.
There is also a GoFundMe set up for the McBride and Jasko families.
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