Church service set for beloved organist killed on Beechmont Avenue

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 9:24 PM EDT
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ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX) - Shock and sadness prevail in the somber aftermath of a fatal pedestrian strike on Beechmont Avenue.

The victim was a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, a beloved musician at a Tri-State church and, by at least one account, a sweet and gentle man.

Jee Han Park left most of his family in South Korea to study music at UC. He spent the last seven years as a pianist and organist at Madison Avenue Christian Church in Covington.

Park would have been 57 on Thursday, but around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, a driver ran off the side of Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township and hit him as he was walking in the bike lane.

The impact of the collision threw Park into an adjacent front yard. First responders pronounced him dead at the scene.

Kathy Groob, a spokesperson for Madison Avenue Christian Church, says Park played there every Sunday, filling the air with his music.

“Whether it’s organ or piano, you’d often see him moving quietly from one to the other during the service, and I would just call him a sweetheart,” Groob said. “He was just a wonderful, wonderful soul.”

Groob recalls her shock when she learned the news.

“I saw the news reports coming in last night about a bad accident, and they were not giving any names at that time... This morning, our church youth minister sent out an email, and when I saw... sadness... and his name... I was just in shock. I can’t even tell you what the email said after that,” she said.

Groob adds Park was just shy of completing his Ph.D.

She also says there’s going to be a void in the church going forward.

“I was there earlier today, and just seeing the piano, and seeing the keys without this lovely young man taken away from us far too soon in such a tragic way... This Sunday is going to be an empty room. We’re not going to have any music. We just can’t imagine having anyone else at the piano playing without him,” she said.

After hitting Park, the car, driven by 48-year-old Andrea Bengal, struck a telephone pole.

Bengal was trapped in her vehicle with live wires on it for some time afterward. UC Air Care airlifted her to the hospital with serious injuries, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities believe drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.

No update has been provided on Bengal’s condition or what charges she might face.

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