Mother remembers former UC swimmer killed in Walnut Hills pedestrian crash

The Louisiana native came here to be a Bearcat. His mother says he was thriving before he died.
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 10:04 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Those walking around Eden Park will notice a new sapling near a makeshift memorial. A permanent memorial bench could reside there as well soon in honor of a former University of Cincinnati swimmer who was killed in a crash earlier this year.

John Miller, 26, originally hailed from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His mother thought he’d found his new home when he moved to Cincinnati.

“He just did amazing out there,” Tammy Miller said Thursday. “The amount of friends that he had shows me that we did something right.”

Tragedy befell the Miller family in July. John was walking on Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills around 3:30 a.m. when a car hit him.

Cincinnati police officers found the 26-year-old dead in the roadway. The driver had fled the scene.

Sometime after the crash, officers found the suspect, 49-year-old Donte Beenie, whom they said was still intoxicated.

A Hamilton County grand jury on Wednesday returned an indictment against Beenie on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, failure to stop after a crash and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Tammy is monitoring the case but prefers not to discuss it. These days, she’d much rather remember her son, the avid swimmer and UC alumnus who moved out-of-state to become a Bearcat and studied hard to earn an engineering degree.

“[UC] had an amazing engineering school,” Tammy said of John’s choice of school, “and that’s what he was going to college for, and the swim team was just an added benefit.”

Following John’s death, the Miller family saw a remarkable outpouring of love and support from those in Cincinnati.

“I knew he had a big group of friends,” Tammy said. “I didn’t realize how big and how wonderful they were.”

A sizeable contingent ventured down to Baton Rouge for the funeral.

“We had his service down here,” Tammy explained. “We had at least 40-50 people travel from Cincinnati.”

John left behind his beloved dog, Murphy, who now lives with Tammy in Louisiana. She says it’s partially Murphy’s doing that the memorial now sits in Eden Park, as John and the pup would go on walks there.

Tammy was there on Aug. 29 when John’s friends gathered to plant the tree. It was John’s birthday.

She says the plan is to put a bench at the base of the tree with a plaque to honor him.

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