Car accident kills 19-year-old Kent State student

Michael Lewis

Credit: Ben Breier

Since the accident, Jason Mancini has written messages of love and loss to his girlfriend, Tiffany Tilenni, trying to cope with her death.

Mancini, sophomore economics major, wrote: “Hey beautiful, I feel so lost without you. I don’t know what to do. It’s so hard to live without you. You were the best thing to happen to me. Help guide me through this. I know you will be next to me forever. I know you will watch over me. You are my angel now. I love you princess.”

Tiffany Marie Tilenni was born May 18, 1986, the loved daughter of Tony and Linda Tilenni and sister of Anthony. She was a valedictorian at Tallmadge High School, class of 2004, and a member of National Honor Society. She worked at Bob Evans restaurant on Gilchrist Road in Akron.

Tilenni, a sophomore business administration major and an honor student on the dean’s list at Kent State, was one of six passengers in a Hyundai Elantra that was struck by an Akron Beacon Journal delivery truck on Dec. 30.

Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said the Elantra’s driver, Melissa McKenna, 19, of Cuyahoga Falls, failed to yield at a flashing red light and was hit at West Cedar and Bowery streets in downtown Akron.

According to Edwards, McKenna was lost and turned around to ask for directions when she went through the light. Tilenni was sitting in the back seat when the delivery truck slammed into the rear passenger door.

A spokesman for the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tilenni was taken to Akron City Hospital, where she died from massive trauma at 5:30 a.m.

One passenger, Ashley Roop, 18, of Stow, remains hospitalized in serious condition at Akron General Medical Center. Nathan Blake, 21, of Cuyahoga Falls was treated and discharged on Jan. 4 from the same hospital.

McKenna; the front-seat passenger, Erika Klinzing, 18, of Cuyahoga Falls; and another passenger, Alison Boesch, 19, were treated at Akron City Hospital and released. Klinzing and Boesch also are students at Kent State. McKenna was unavailable for comment.

“When you’re driving a vehicle, you need to be paying attention,” Edwards said. “Here’s an incidence where a young woman took her eyes off the road for a second and it resulted in the death of another.”

The crash is still under investigation; however, Edwards said neither alcohol nor speed was involved. Misdemeanor charges against the driver may be forthcoming.

Those who knew Tilenni loved her. And she loved her family and friends. Her family was unavailable for comment.

“Our relationship was perfect,” Mancini said. “She loved life, every second. I know she is with me.”

Nancy Fluke, guidance counseling chairperson at Tallmadge High School, said Tilenni was extremely well-respected by faculty and students. She was always there for her friends and remained quite busy during her four years.

“She was the top of the top, one of those students who always wanted to do more,” Fluke said. “She was just a quiet hero.”

Tilenni took part in student senate, basketball, soccer and community projects while volunteering with the Work and Family Life club. She remained an active member with Our Lady of Victory Church in Tallmadge.

The Tiffany Tilenni Scholarship Fund has been setup at National City Bank on 100 East Ave. in Tallmadge. Contact branch manager Jay Schill for donations or to raise additional funds at (330) 633-1730.

“People are responding very well,” Schill said. “She was such a good person.”

Contact safety reporter Michael Lewis at [email protected].