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Crash deaths down in Ohio

Jessica Cuffman • Jan 19, 2014 at 9:23 AM

The number of motorists killed in crashes in 2013 decreased statewide, but remained about the same in the Register’s four-county region compared to 2012.

In Erie County, the number of fatalities remained the same, while there was one less in Ottawa County, one more in Sandusky County and two more in Huron County.

Of the 33 victims who died, a third were killed in a one-month span, from Nov. 20 to Dec. 23.

A passenger in one of the crashes, Dakota Schaffer, 17, of Bellevue, remains at the University of Toledo Medical Center, in stable condition, a nursing supervisor said Tuesday evening.

Schaffer was a passenger in a 2001 Ford Focus driven by his friend, Garrett Holmes, 16, also of Bellevue.

Near Holmes’ Ohio 18 home the evening of Dec. 22, the teen lost control of the vehicle, which veered off the road into a ditch and struck a barn and landscaping rocks before hitting a tree, troopers said.

Holmes died from injuries sustained in the crash, and Schaffer has been hospitalized since.

Friends and families of both boys have hosted fundraisers to support Schaffer, including donations from profits at a tattoo parlor and contributions collected at First National Bank in Sandusky and Bellevue.

In another pending investigation, troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Fremont post await blood-alcohol tests to determine if a driver who caused a Dec. 23 wrong-way crash had been drinking.

The driver, Charles Starks, 61, of Fremont, was operating a 2013 Kia Optima east in the westbound lanes on the U.S. 6 bypass around Fremont when his vehicle collided with a 2007 Dodge Dakota pickup.

Starks and the Dodge driver, Evelyn Hunt, 57, of Fremont, both died in the crash. Hunt’s grandson, however, Zackary Zimmerman, 15, of Fremont, survived.

He was treated at a hospital and released that night.

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