By Terry Rogers
The Milford community is grieving after the tragic loss of Tricia Martin, Principal of Milford Central Academy, who died in a car accident on Friday, April 11. Dr. Martin’s 10-year old daughter, Taryn, was critically injured in the crash. She passed away from her injuries on Sunday.
“Our district is devastated by this loss,” Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Superintendent of the district said. “She was well-respected by her students and staff, and her loss will leave a big hole in our district for many years to come.” Dr. Kohel said that the district plans to honor Dr. Martin, but were waiting to make arrangements until they could work out the details with Dr. Martin’s family.
Dr. Martin was travelling on Barrett’s Chapel Road when, for unknown reasons, she crossed the center line and exited the roadway where it drove along the ditch line before hitting a telephone box and fence. The car overturned into the roadway after striking an embankment. Dr. Martin was inside the vehicle, while her daughter got out to seek assistance from passing motorists. A vehicle, driven by Richard Triola of Magnolia, was traveling eastbound when it struck Dr. Martin’s vehicle. Taryn was hit by one of the vehicles and thrown on the grass, while Dr. Martin was ejected from the car. She as flown to Christiana Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Taryn was initially taken to Kent General Hospital, but was later flown to AI DuPont Children’s Hospital. Triola was transported to Kent General Hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
“The district had a voluntary meeting for staff on Sunday to offer them assistance with dealing with the tragedy,” Dr. Kohel said. “Neighboring districts, Lake Forest, Cape Henlopen and others, have reached out to us, offering any assistance we need. We are grateful for their offers.” Dr. Kohel said that Dr. Martin was more than a colleague to many of the staff at the district, stating that many of those that worked with her considered her a close personal friend.
“It is simply unbelievable,” said Renate Wiley, a member of Milford’s Board of Education. “It is so sad to lose someone so young, and our sympathies are with the family at this tragic time.” Dr. Kohel said that counselors will be at the school on Monday for students who need assistance in dealing with Dr. Martin’s death.
Marvin Schelhouse, President of the Board of Education, also expressed his sorrow at the loss of a talented, vibrant educator. Dr. Martin taught math at Milford Middle School for many years before becoming an Assistant Principal at the middle school and Milford Central Academy. She left the district briefly to become a principal in the Caesar Rodney District, returning to Milford soon after to take the principal’s position at the Academy.
“I understand that she had recently spent time with family in Florida,” Mr. Schelhouse said. Dr. Kohel said that she understood that Dr. Martin had been in Florida with her daughter to attend the funeral of a relative. She also said that Dr. Martin’s father had passed away the year before, and that she was an only child, as was her daughter, Taryn.
“It is heartbreaking to think of her mother losing her husband, only daughter and only grandchild so close together,” Dr. Kohel said. “There are no words to express how difficult this loss is for our district, but the grief the Martin family is experiencing must be unbearable.”