HARFORD CO. CRASH VICTIMS: President of local ShopRite supermarkets; 7-year-old Joppa boy

    HARFORD CO. CRASH VICTIMS: President of local ShopRite supermarkets; 7-year-old Joppa boy

    BEL AIR, Md. (WBFF) - Monday morning's 12-vehicle accident on Harford County's Route 24 claimed two lives, a 7-year-old Joppa boy and the president of the local chain of ShopRite supermarkets.

    Harford County is now mourning the death of 7 year old Tripp Johnson.

    His elementary school principal told FOX45 he was “Always smiling and he greeted everyone with a hug."

    Photo Courtesy: Joppatowne Seahawks Football & Cheer

    A football coach with the Joppatowne Seahawks Football & Cheer where Tripp played declined to give a comment out of respect for the family.

    The little league group posted on Facebook " Your Seahawks family and the rest of this community are beyond heartbroken to lose such an innocent soul."

    ShopRite representatives confirmed that Andrew "Andy" Klein, president of Klein's Family Markets, also died in the accident, which happened to involve a ShopRite truck.

    Andrew Klein was 65, and a member of Harford County's prominent Klein family that ran the supermarket chain.

    "We are shocked and saddened to learn about the tragic accident that took place in Maryland today and claimed two precious lives, including [a 7-year-old boy] and our own beloved ShopRite family member Andrew Klein, President of Klein’s Family Markets," said ShopRite spokesperson Karen Meleta in a statement Monday afternoon.

    "Our hearts grieve with both families, and on behalf of the Klein family, we ask that the media and those seeking to express their condolences respect the family’s privacy at this time. We are cooperating fully with the police, and because this is an active accident investigation, we cannot provide further comment," the statement continued.

    According to ShopRite's website: "In 1925, Maurice and Sara Klein opened a small general store in the rural village of Fallston, Maryland. Some 50-plus years later, their son Ralph, his wife Shirley and their sons Andrew and Michael own and operate seven supermarkets throughout Maryland. A fourth generation of the Klein family (Marshall, Sarah, and Stephen) is now actively engaged in the stores’ day-to-day operations. Operating as Klein’s Family Markets, Ralph and his family joined Wakefern in October 2008, becoming the cooperative’s 45th member. Beginning in March, 2009, all Klein’s Family Markets stores transitioned to the ShopRite banner. Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland provides full- and part-time employment to more than 900 associates. The company also takes special pride in its “zero-accident” culture, on-the-job safety record, and one of the industry’s lowest worker’s compensation insurance rates."

    Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said: "We are shocked and saddened by the loss of Andy Klein. Andy followed his family's legacy of giving back to many community groups in Harford County. We pray for God's healing for his family and for the family of the child who was also lost today."

    Community leaders and area residents were reacting to the tragedy.

    Harford County Council President Pat Vincenti called him an "amazing man" on Facebook and called his death "truly a tremendous loss for us all."

    The crash was caused when a tractor-trailer driven by Carloo Watson, 49, of Brunswick, N.J., failed to stop (for unknown reasons) while driving south on Route 24 near Ring Factory Road in Bel Air, reported Maryland State Police.

    The tractor-trailer crashed into multiple vehicles and caught fire, "along with two other vehicles that were pinned under the truck," said State Police.

    The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

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