July 1, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Highland High junior dies in 2-car crash on way to school

Maria Kacik and Kaitlin Bushinski
The Gazette

GRANGER TWP. — Just 15 minutes before the start of the school day Wednesday, Highland High junior Erin Ehrbar was pulling out of her driveway when another car crashed into her driver’s side.

Erin, 16, died at the scene.

Her 13-year-old brother, Andrew, a seventh-grader at Highland Middle School and a passenger in Erin’s 2002 Pontiac Sunbird, was listed in critical condition Wednesday night at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

a1mg_clrmugerin-ehrbar1Erin Ehrbar

The driver of the other car, 17-year-old Highland sophomore Jonathon D. Slifka, was treated and released at Medina Hospital, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Highland Superintendent Catherine Aukerman said in a statement that grief counselors are available at the high school and the middle school.

“We are fortunate to have such a supportive and caring network at Highland — one that is emotionally connected to our students. They continue to support each other like family during these tough times,” she said.

Aukerman said the district was shocked by the tragedy.

“Erin was a wonderful student with a contagious smile, and her teachers agree that she was a genuine pleasure to have in class,” she said.

Dawn Marzano, spokeswoman for Highland Local Schools, said students at the high school and middle school overcome with grief were allowed to be taken home by their parents during the school day.

All athletic practices and events at the high and middle schools were cancelled Wednesday night.

At approximately 7:15 a.m., Erin was pulling out of her driveway at 1825 Wilbur Road and attempting to make a left turn, Trooper Jeff Hirsch said.

Jonathan was westbound on Wilbur in a 1973 Ford Mustang when his car hit Erin’s driver’s side door.

“She got all the energy of his bumper,” Hirsch said.

Erin’s car went off the south side of the road, and Jonathan’s car came to a rest in the middle of the road, he said.

Andrew was flown via medical helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center with serious injuries.

Hirsh said Jonathan, a Granger Township resident, was alert at the scene, and had suffered facial lacerations. He was transported by Granger Township rescue crews to Medina Hospital where he was treated and released.

Hirsch said there were a variety of factors that may have played a role in the accident.

“Sun glare was present when I arrived,” Hirsch said, which may have obstructed Erin’s view.

The crash remains under investigation.

This is the second traffic fatality Highland has faced this school year. Sixteen-year-old Victoria Jackson died Dec. 30 in an accident at Remsen and South Weymouth roads in Medina Township.

Contact Maria Kacik at (330) 721-4049 or mkacik@medina-gazette.com.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.

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The Gazette is Medina County's daily local news source, serving the community since 1832. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.