OPRF graduate dies after North Carolina car accident

2008 alum cited for driving while impaired after crash

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By Ben Meyerson

Chicago Journal Editor

A 2008 OPRF graduate died Sunday, a week after a traffic crash in North Carolina that left her hospitalized.

Jessie Mitchell was living in Cary, N.C., where her family moved after she graduated from high school.

Mitchell had attended North Carolina University in nearby Raleigh. According to a crash report, the accident occurred just outside N.C. State's campus at 3:20 a.m. on Nov. 28.

Mitchell's car allegedly drifted off the side of the road, hitting a light pole and then turning over, flipping multiple times before landing on its wheels, according to the report.

A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Medical Examiner Office said it appeared Mitchell died on Sunday, Dec. 5.

Reports from friends said Mitchell had been in a coma, and died from complications during brain surgery.

Mitchell received a ticket at the scene for driving while impaired.

A spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department said the ticket would have been issued if the officer at the scene found probable cause that Mitchell's blood alcohol level was over 0.08 percent, though he did not have access to specific information on the case as of press time.

OPRF spokesperson Kay Foran said Tuesday that the high school was aware of the incident and had confirmed Mitchell's death.

Mitchell's family could not be reached for comment as of press time.

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Reader Comments

25 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Comment Policy

Maureen from Chicago  

Posted: December 21st, 2010 10:43 AM

Hey David from Oak Park: The fact that you are posting six days after Jessica's father respectfully closed the subject speaks volumes about your character. Leave the family and this subject alone. Are social graces and kindness so difficult for you because it's the Holidays, or are you always so obtuse?

David from Oak Park  

Posted: December 20th, 2010 3:08 AM

I find it abhorrent that you criticize the writer for discussing the facts of the accident. It was very clear that there was alcohol involved, and to say that it is an irrelevant fact is inappropriate. That you feel a need to defend her as being sober speaks to the contrary. More importantly why are you posting online comments days after her death? Your feeble defense is pathetic at best and guilt ridden at worst. Speak out against drunk driving instead of denying it.

Mitch and Carrie (Jessica's parents)  

Posted: December 14th, 2010 11:30 AM

Although a vicious attack at the 'writer' and the newspaper would perhaps bring us some instant gratification, it will not bring back our Lil'. As a periodical that is only delivered weekly, we would expect there are more meaningful things to write about, versus a story that could only bring hurt, and no help to our world. That being said, if you need something beautiful, phenomenal, or meaningful to print...please let us know, we can send you something that a true writer (Jessica) created...

Becky Easley from Sundance, WY  

Posted: December 13th, 2010 6:17 PM

This article has only added insult to injury for the Mitchell family. As Jessie's Aunt,the way you stated your facts insinuates that Jessie was "under the influence" and was ticketed at the scene. How could she be ticketed if she never woke up? An entirely new article, talking to her friends and family, about this amazing and loving young woman is called for. The miracle of her death is that in donating her organs, Jessie saved the lives of 5 people, giving 5 families an amazing Christmas gift

Becca from Oak Park  

Posted: December 12th, 2010 7:36 PM

Even if the facts of this article are true (which, given the grossly negligible attempt at gathering any solidified information, is HIGHLY improbable), the issue at hand should be why the article was written in the first place. The "alleged" information gleaned from police reports is not important: Jessie Mitchell is. This article should have helped a community understand and come to terms with the loss of one of its valued members. This article has failed and caused even more hurt and pain.

Molly from chicago  

Posted: December 12th, 2010 5:51 PM

This %u201Carticle%u201D is not only false it is grossly distasteful.The true fact is that there are people ignorant enough to write something like this.The article was written without the facts being checked,this horrifies me and many others.Jessie touched and blessed the lives of so many people, myself included, and the author did nothing but hurt those people with this article. The author should be ashamed of himself for writing this article. An apology & a retraction is owed to Jessie & her loved ones

Samantha from Norfolk, VA  

Posted: December 12th, 2010 3:02 PM

Also, may I add that there was never any contact to the family for the facts as stated at the end of the article. If someone had reached out we as a family could have been able to make this a truthful article. Unacceptable.


Posted: December 12th, 2010 2:04 PM

The Wednesday Journal has never been renowned for its stellar reporting, as is to be expected in a town said to have "broad lawns and narrow minds." However I never thought a narrow mind should translate to an obdurate heart. The article is not only tasteless but inaccurate. Show some compassion for the people that knew and loved her. Regardless if you have the capacity for either. I think an apology is owed to those endeared to her, if not for your own integrity.

Samantha from Norfolk, VA  

Posted: December 12th, 2010 1:17 PM

This is Jessica's older sister. While I understand the need to write an article that will read well to your subscribers, I think a little more fact-checking may have gone a long way here. Jessica was NOT drunk, or anywhere near the legal limit. We lost a beloved family member, our lives are forever changed. An article like this is unacceptable for a grieving family to see. Please issue a retraction and get your facts straight.


Posted: December 12th, 2010 12:46 PM

I am Jessica's sister, and I can state that she was NOT under the influence of anything. It was an accident, plain and simple. It hurts to see cruel assumptions made so shortly after her death, and so publicly.


Posted: December 12th, 2010 1:28 AM

I don't know who you think you are or how you hink you have the right to comment on this. This disgusts me. You're not even making true statements. And how cold can you be. You don't even know her and how beautiful she is, you share no compasion and this is insulting.

Caitlyn from Chicago  

Posted: December 9th, 2010 6:42 PM

Mr. Meyerson. As not only a sister of Jessie's best friend, but as a writer,I am angered and appauled at the blatent disregard for the facts here. I understand this is the initial article after the information has been relayed to you, but a retraction of the false facts and an apology to readers, friends and family is a simple request of mine. Do your research, ask some real questions, show some compassion. All good journalists make mistakes, but they are also able to admit to their faults.

quincy from Denver, CO  

Posted: December 9th, 2010 2:50 PM

Jessie was my daughter's best friend for a number of years. There are a number of errors in this article. Mr. Meyerson needs to fact-check a little more closely. Although there may have been an initial suspicion of alcohol being involved in this horrible accident, further testing at the hospital proved that Jessie's BAC was below the state limit in North Carolina. I loved Jessie like a daughter and am greatly dismayed by this salacious attempt at journalism.


Posted: December 9th, 2010 11:35 AM

I for one would like to celebrate Jessie. What a wonderful Gal, She well be miss. We can only love our kids.

Violet Aura  

Posted: December 8th, 2010 1:58 PM

I think the article was tastefully done. There is no evidence of sensationalism, i.e; screaming headlines regarding the possible DUI. As a matter of fact, the writer was careful to note that it is not certain as to the cause of the accident. Have we really devolved to such an extent that facts become bones of contention and accusations fly as to the motive of a writer? Remember who, what, when, where, and why? Those are the pillars of journalism.

received other info  

Posted: December 8th, 2010 1:02 PM

The information that is being passed around via friends of hers is that "she was DUI and that your life is worth more than the price of a taxi." I think the biggest fact is that this young made a horrible choice to drive under the influence.

Rhonda from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2010 11:17 AM

Ben, Is this the best you can do? This article looks like a uneducated thought process. You need to rethink what you write next time in regards to this family's loss. My condolences to the family.

Lori from Oak Park  

Posted: December 8th, 2010 10:11 AM

My daughter was in Jessie's close group of friends at OPRF. 5 of them are leaving tomorrow to attend the funeral in N.C. Jessie was a wonderful,caring, young woman full of life and promise. This is an unspeakable tragedy for her friends and family. Those are the only facts that count right now.

Liz from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 11:42 PM

I think that it is good that Ben is bringing attention to the fact that drunk driving kills! It's a hard truth, especially to people who knew this girl, but it could save lives of others who read it!

Linda from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 10:49 PM

All I have to say is the girl has died, and these parents are dealing with the worst pain possible. I can't even believe that this is a subject that needs to even be discussed. How pathetic, lets just pray that the family gets thru this.....geez

Jessica P from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 6:39 PM

This appears to be the initial article issued after an accident. It contains only quick facts. If more is to be said it is often done in a latter article. Stating a driver was ticketed is the standard, and stating a driver was "impaired" does not indicate some sort of 'sin'. Impairment could be from sleepiness or a prescribed medicaton.They made a point to include that it was NOT from alcohol. I do hope they do an expanded article. Condolences to the Mitchell family on their heartbreaking loss.

Ron from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 6:10 PM

An unbiased account of what happened??? Ben go home and ask your Mom how she would react if the story was about you? Also have the cojones to put some attribution to your comments.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 5:50 PM

Sure, this is an account of the facts. But journalists are able to pick and choose facts to present to their readers. For many people, this article is the only information they may learn about Jessie and the story does a disservice to a person whose passing deeply affects countless members of our community. Where are the facts that say what a wonderful human being Jessie was? I find it hard to believe that the headline was written to honor Jessie rather than simply bring readers to the site.


Posted: December 7th, 2010 5:24 PM

Ron- this is an unbiased account of what happened. There are no opinions here- just facts about what happened

Ron from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2010 5:12 PM

As the father of a classmate of this young lady, I find it incorrigible to report the details of her "alleged" impaired driving as a slug line to the story. The Mitchells have just lost a daughter and does the Journal speak to her accomplishments at OPRF or in the community? No thats not going to drive page views on their new website! After proselytizing about the evils of Lord Black,and Pioneer Press it would appear that the Journal has caught a bad case of journalistic aspergers syndrome!

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