A teenager in Ohio asked for forgiveness from the family of a mother-of-four who was killed after he and a friend pushed a 74-pound log off a cliff last year.
Photographer Victoria Schafer was crushed to death in Hocking Hills State Park on Labor Day last year. Jaden Churchheus pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter two weeks ago, and on Friday Jordan Buckley, 17, entered the same plea.
‘I understand that my actions that day has caused your family’s life to change,’ the teenager told the woman’s loved ones in court.
‘I know that no words that I can speak can bring back your beloved wife, daughter and sister.
‘My hope, from all of this, is to use this trauma to learn and live the rest of my life in a way that will honor Ms. Schafer’s. I would like to use this experience to prevent others from making a similar mistake.
‘There will not be a day for the rest of my life that I will not think of this tragedy,’ Jordan Buckley said in court as the victim’s husband John Fritz Schafer looked on. ‘I hope that someday you will find it in your heart to forgive me.’ Hae’s pictured in November 2019 (right)
Victoria Schafer’s September 2, 2019 death had initially been ruled an accident, but after a preliminary investigation authorities discovered evidence the log had been pushed or thrown off a cliff at Hocking Hills State Park, before fatally striking her
This image was taken of Schafer surround by students. moments before she was killed
‘There will not be a day for the rest of my life that I will not think of this tragedy,’ Buckley added in a video obtained by Inside Edition. ‘I hope that someday you will find it in your heart to forgive me.’
Schafer, a mother of four children, owned a photography studio and was well known in her local community for her charity work, contributing to various causes over the years.
Her husband John Fritz Schafer said at the time she was exercising her passion for photography.
The woman’s death had initially been ruled an accident, but after a preliminary investigation authorities discovered evidence the log had been pushed or thrown off a cliff before fatally striking the 44-year-old from Chillicothe.
She was taking photographs with five of her students near Old Man’s Cave, when the log fell around 75 feet off the cliff and landed on top of her where she was sitting on a staircase, killing her instantly.
Police received a tip that a 16-year-old boy had texted a classmate telling him he’d done ‘something bad at the park’ with another juvenile boy, also 16.
The victim’s husband listens as Buckley speaks in court on Friday asking for forgiveness
Jaden Churchheus is the second teenager charged in the case of the photographer’s death. They were previously charged with murder and reckless homicide. The judge has recommended 3 to 4-and-a-half years in prison
Schafer, 44, a professional photographer from Chillicothe, was taking photographs with five of her students near Old Man’s Cave, when the log, weighing 74 pounds, fell some 75 feet off the cliff and landed on top of her where she was sitting on a staircase, killing her instantly
Further investigation led to the arrests of the two boys mentioned, both from Logan, who reportedly confessed to police in an interview that they ‘were involved in forcing the log over the cliff.’
However, at a detention hearing both of the boys denied the offenses, according to the Chillicothe Gazette.
Their friend Miranda said she was with them at the time of the incident and testified that they pushed the 6-foot log ‘to be funny.’
The prosecutors pushed to have them tried as adults because they tried to cover up the crime and didn’t come forward until a month after the incident. They also alleged that the boys, then 16, were drunk at the time.
The Hocking Juvenile Court classified the two defendants as ‘Serious Youth Offenders’, which means the offense would have been classified as a violent offense if committed as an adult, and has found them to be dangers to themselves and others.
The teens took a plea deal that reduced the charges from murder and reckless homicide and transferred the case back to juvenile court.
‘Jordan’s response to this tragedy has been as good as it can be,’ his attorney said.
The attorney said the teen had been in counselling since December 2019.
The judge has recommended he spend 3 to 4-and-a-half years in prison.
The teenage boys are set to sentenced October 15.
Her broken camera, crushed in the incident, is pictured as part of evidence in the case
The photographer is pictured with her husband John Fritz Schafer (left) who appeared in court