A Wilton couple killed in a crash Sunday on the way to the Outback Bowl were remembered Monday as active members of their community and nearby Durant.
The crash killed Kenneth and Elaine Behrens, 64 and 65, respectively, according to the Georgia State Patrol. A 13-year-old boy, who wasn't identified, riding in the couple's Ford Escape was uninjured.
Recently retired, Kenneth Behrens served on the Durant City Council from 2000 to 2003 and for one year as mayor (2002-2003) and was the long-time public address announcer for Durant High School sports. Elaine Behrens was a retired elementary school teacher who taught for many years in Durant.
Arnie Kempf of Durant, a friend of the couple, was shocked by the news. He already was in Tampa for the bowl game between the University of Iowa and Louisiana State University on Wednesday.
"I've known them both for years, and I talked with Kenny just last week about coming down here," Kempf said. "They were looking forward to the trip. He and Elaine were big Hawk fans, went to a lot of games. It's a shame."
Mackenzie Holladay recently saw the couple at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Wilton where they were active members and involved in the community.
"I'm sure both Wilton and Durant will be hurting," she said of their deaths.
Gary DeLong, the former Durant High School athletic director, said he could count on Ken Behrens to help him in a pinch, whether it was to announce an event or serve as an umpire for a Saturday morning softball game.
"He was probably the biggest fan we had," said DeLong, who retired in 2003. "I don't recall him missing a sporting event."
Even when he wasn't announcing, he could be heard at sporting events, said Terri Lilienthal of New Liberty, who worked with Elaine and taught dance to the couple's daughters.
"You could always hear him," Lilienthal said of Ken. "He made sure they knew he supported them."
She recalled Elaine Behrens as a great teacher, active in church groups and always upbeat. The couple was very proud of their daughters and grandchildren.
"It is really sad that we are going to miss them," she said. "They were just a really good part of our community. They were just there. They were part of everything we seemed to do."
Ken retired in July from Iowa 80 Truckstop where he was a mechanic for 15 years. He stopped in shortly before leaving for the bowl game, said Mike Hutchison, general manager of the truckstop.
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"Everybody liked him, and he will be missed," Hutchison said.
The couple was southbound about 5 p.m. on Interstate 75 in south-central Georgia when traffic slowed, Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Tre Howard said Monday. The Behrenses' vehicle was hit from behind by a Kia Forte. The vehicles hit a guardrail, and the Behrenses' Escape overturned.
The driver of the Kia, from Ohio, was uninjured. His name has not been released.
Elaine Behrens and the boy were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, Howard said.
The Behrenses were part of at least a two-vehicle caravan heading to the bowl game, Howard said. Other family members were in a minivan directly ahead of the vehicles involved in the crash.
The crash remains under investigation by the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team.