July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Speed, failure to yield played role in fatal accident

GRANGER TWP. — The Ohio Highway Patrol’s investigation into the accident that killed two Highland students concluded driver Erin Ehrbar failed to yield the right of way, and the only survivor, another a Highland student, was speeding.

Lt. Joshua Swindell, commander of the OHP’s Medina post, said while the crash is still being investigated, information was leaked to the press and he was able to confirm some of the findings

On her way to school the morning of April 28, Ehrbar, 16, was attempting to pull out of her driveway on Wilbur Road when her car was hit by a vehicle driven by Jonathon Slifka, 17, also of Granger Township, who was westbound on Wilbur, according to the OHP.

Slifka’s vehicle struck the driver’s side of Ehrbar’s Pontiac Sunfire, pushing it to the other side of the road. Ehrbar was pronounced dead shortly after the accident, and her brother, Andrew, 13, a passenger in her car, died at Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center the following day.

“We did find the young lady at fault. The law is very simple about that,” Swindell said about the failure to yield finding.

The OHP’s crash report mentions that sun glare and a dip in the road may have obstructed Ehrbar’s view as she attempted to exit her driveway.

“We also noted that (Slifka) was traveling at an illegal speed,” Swindell said, adding crash recontructionists determined the teenager was traveling between 61 and 71 mph at the time of the accident.

Swindell said the speed limit for that section of Wilbur Road is 50 mph with a posted suggested speed of 30 mph because of hidden driveways in the area.

“It’s just a courtesy to let people know to be cautious in that area,” Swindell said.

The lieutenant said he and the crash site reconstruction team will meet with Medina County Prosecutor Dean Holman next week to go over their investigation.

“As other things come to light, there could be other charges or criminal charges,” Swindell said.

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