WINTERSVILLE - A highway accident reconstruction expert was in Jefferson County Tuesday trying to piece together what may have led to Sunday morning crashes that involved six Indian Creek High School students.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the accidents, which happened on state Route 151 in Cross Creek Township, occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. that morning when a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by Johnathon M. Haught, 16, of Wintersville was eastbound on Route 151 and lost control of the vehicle, slid off of the left side of the roadway and struck a guardrail, according to reports from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Troopers said that upon impact a rear seat passenger, Justin Cummings, 15, of Mingo Junction, was partially ejected from the vehicle as it came to rest on the roadway. An additional passenger, Zachary A. Connor, 16, of Mingo Junction, was seated in the right front seat and sustained possible injuries, according to reports.
Reports indicate that only Haught and Cummings were transported by STAT MedEvac to UPMC Hospital in Pittsburgh due to their injuries. Haught has been released.
In addition, at the same time and location, a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Jacob L. Shriver, 16, of Wintersville also was eastbound on Route 151 and allegedly following Haught's vehicle when he lost control and slid off of the left side of the roadway, struck the same guardrail and came to rest in a creek, according to reports.
Megan Nestor, 14, of Steubenville and Justin A. Renzler, 15, of Wintersville were passengers in Shriver's vehicle, but no injuries were reported from that accident, according to reports.
Reports showed that both crashes remain under investigation, but speed is believed to have been a factor. Investigators are working to establish if any connections exist between the crashes. The highway accident reconstruction expert was brought in from the Cambridge office of the patrol.
Indian Creek Local School District Superintendent John Rocchi said the ordeal has been "sombering" for the students of his district.
"A lot of the students at our school are very close and involved in various athletics. We have a close-knit community and hopefully this will serve as a reminder that vehicles can be dangerous and to be careful," said Rocchi.
Counselors were available at the high school on Tuesday for any student needing assistance in dealing with the emotions incurred by the event, Rocchi said. Rocchi also mentioned that the high school will be setting up an account at a local bank where donations can be made, and he said that specifics will be forthcoming.