UPDATED: Fiery, fatal crash in Bellevue
Sep 19, 2013 at 7:40 PM
A fiery crash in downtown Bellevue Tuesday night left a mother dead and four others in serious condition at Toledo hospitals, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers said.
Tracy Albright, 36, of Bellevue, was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said.
Morgan Jevec, 24, of Massillon, is accused of causing the threevehicle crash at East Main and North Sandusky streets. He remains at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where he was flown by medical helicopter shortly after the crash.
Three passengers in his vehicle, all from Canton, were also flown to Toledo hospitals after suffering serious injuries. Christopher Watters, 48, and Ricky Treherne Jr., 32, were also flown to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, while Steven Gresser, 31, was flown to the Toledo Hospital.
The driver of a third vehicle involved in the crash — Travis Roach, 54, of Bellevue — was treated at the scene and released.
At about 11:07 p.m., a caller alerted Huron County dispatchers to a Mercury Grand Marquis driving recklessly as it headed west on U.S. 20, from Monroeville, Bellevue police Chief Dennis Brandal said.
Listen to the 911 call in the player below
Brandal’s officers began to station their cruisers on the east side of Bellevue in hopes of intercepting the vehicle, but within three minutes of the first call, a Bellevue officer crossed paths with the Grand Marquis at U.S. 20 and Prairie Road, police said.
The officer — Brandal did not release his name — clocked the vehicle at almost 80 mph. The officer flicked on his cruiser’s emergency lights and siren and began to pursue the vehicle. It’s unclear if the officer’s cruiser ever caught up to the vehicle, as a statement from Brandal did not explain this in detail.
What is known: About 1.5 miles away, and about 120 seconds later, the incident ended in tragedy.
At 11:11 p.m., at North Sandusky and East Main streets, the Grand Marquis slammed into the rear of Albright’s Chevy Blazer, which was stopped at a traffic light. The Blazer continued through the intersection until coming to rest on the north side of Main Street. Albright was the Blazer’s only occupant.
The Grand Marquis, driven by Jevec, then continued through the intersection and struck Roach’s Buick Lacrosse, which was stopped in a turn lane, Brandal said.
The Blazer and the Grand Marquis burst into flames.
Bellevue resident John Shumake said he was about half a mile away when he heard the police sirens and then the boom from the crash.
“It was backwards,” he said while revisiting the scene Wednesday.
He and dozens of other Bellevue residents descended on the chaotic scene after hearing the police scanner traffic and the sirens. As emergency vehicles flooded the area, medical helicopters landed at the junior high parking lot nearby. Bellevue firefighters extinguished the vehicle fires, but Albright was soon pronounced dead.
Sharon Francis, 32, said she went to the scene as soon as she heard the helicopters landing. She feared someone she knew might be involved in the crash.
“There was glass and tires and smoke everywhere,” she said Wednesday morning, also revisiting the scene. In her arms she held her 10-month-old daughter, Savannah, as she placed flowers along the blackened roadway.
Jevec and the three passengers in his vehicle were not wearing seat belts, authorities said, and it’s unknown if drugs or alcohol were factors in the crash.
Terri Norman, of Bellevue, said she didn’t learn until Wednesday morning that Albright — her friend and co-worker of four years — was dead.
“She was the life of the party,” Norman said. “She was just so funny and outgoing.”
Albright worked as a housekeeper at The Willows at Bellevue, where she strived to make the residents laugh, if only to make their days a little better, Norman said.
Norman said she last crossed paths with Albright earlier Tuesday night, when she was leaving a football game. Albright had attended the game because a co-worker’s son was playing, Norman said.
“That’s just the kind of person she was,” she said. “She was more like a sister than a friend. A really sweet girl.”
Albright was the mother of a teenage son, Norman said.
Huron County dispatchers fielded multiple 911 calls Tuesday night about the Grand Marquis driving recklessly. County dispatchers refused to release recordings of the 911 calls without approval from their supervisors, who on Wednesday did not return multiple phone messages from a reporter.
The Register has also submitted a public records request to Bellevue Police Department, seeking recordings of the police scanner traffic from late Tuesday night.
Criminals charges in the crash have not been filed, troopers said.
Jevec has been cited for traffic violations three times since November — once for a seat belt violation; once for operating without reasonable control; and once for speeding, when he was driving 46 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to Massillon Municipal Court records.