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79-year-old hurt in Nov. 22 crash dies

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The driver suspected of causing a head-on crash that critically injured Firelands High School teacher James Muth on Nov. 22 has died.

Donald Kneisel, 79, died Wednesday at Kingston of Vermilion, according to his obituary.

Witnesses and the Ohio Highway Patrol have said that Kneisel was driving his Chevrolet Silverado west on Russia Road in New Russia Township when he tried to pass another driver and struck Muth’s Toyota Camry head-on.

Both men were seriously injured in the crash — Muth was left in a coma and Kneisel suffered two broken legs, a fractured pelvis and developed pneumonia while hospitalized — which took place in heavy rains. A witness told troopers that Kneisel didn’t have his headlights on, something required by Ohio law when it is raining.

The crash was still under investigation, although troopers had said Kneisel, who lived about a quarter-mile from the accident scene, could have faced charges.

Muth is no longer listed as a patient at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where he was taken by helicopter following the crash.

Firelands school board President Dwayne Becker said Muth has been moved to a different hospital, but the family is keeping exactly where private.

According to Kneisel’s obituary, his family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Jim Muth Family Fund, which can be done at any FirstMerit Bank.

Kneisel once worked at the Cleveland Quarries in South Amherst and became a master mason, using his skills to make various stone carvings around the area. He retired in 1993, his obituary said.

He also enjoyed farming, hunting, fishing and golfing and was an avid sports fan, according to the obituary.

Kneisel was married and had two sons, five daughters, 13 grandchildren and six great grandchildren, the obituary said.

Calling hours for Kneisel are 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. today at Hempel Funeral Home in Amherst. The funeral will be 11 a.m. Monday at Brownhelm Congregational United Church of Christ.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or

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