Ridge Road crash kills 1

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:55 PM

North Central EMS pronounced a Knox County woman dead at the scene of a Ridge Road accident early Monday afternoon.

Norwalk firefighters responded to the crash site at 1:02 p.m. and removed Hollis L. Schaefer, 50, from the heavily damaged 1996 Ford Explorer. She was wearing a seat belt.

Schaefer is the sister of Norwalk resident Rick Brooker.

State Trooper Rebecca Wellner of the Norwalk post said Schaefer was heading north on Ridge Road when she failed to negotiate a curve. Her SUV went off the right side, into a ditch and continued forward, hitting several trees before overturning onto its right side.

Roger Barnett, of 2315 Ridge Road, described what he heard from the accident.

"I heard a scraping noise ... like a truck dumping off scrap metal," he said. "Then I heard a bang.

"My neighbor said somebody was inside the car. I didn't see anybody, then I looked on the other side and saw her hand."

Lt. Jim Bryan said there is no indication speed, drugs or alcohol were factors. Troopers will be testing for drugs and alcohol, a common practice in all fatality investigations.

"If she had been going a little slower, there would have been less damage, obviously," Bryan said.

Monday's fatality is the eighth in eight crashes this year in Huron County. It isn't the first accident Barnett has seen on Ridge Road.

"We see a lot of flipped cars here. They should have a guardrail all the way around (the curve). I've lived here 25 years and I bet I've seen at least 10 accidents," he said.

"One time we lifted a car off a guy by hand. We got the car up and got him out from between his seat and the roof. We lifted the car and I pulled him out. That was about 20 years ago," Barnett said.

Bryan described Ridge Road as "really curvy and hilly." Monday's crash, which remains under investigation, happened about seven-tenths of a mile north of Hasbrock Road.

The post commander noted that many motorists, while coming from the south on Ohio 61, use Hasbrock and Ridge roads as a shortcut, "so it sees an awful lot of traffic."

"Over the last two years, we've had 30 crashes (on Ridge Road), which comes out to about one a month," Bryan said.

The last fatality on Ridge Road was July 5, north of South Norwalk Road.

The passenger, Michael D. Brant, 29, of Monroeville, was pronounced dead at the scene after his brother, Timothy A. Brant, 26, reportedly failed to negotiate a curve. Timothy Brant went off the right side of the road and hit a guard rail and bridge, which ripped the 1993 Dodge Intrepid in half from front to back and ejected his older brother.

Bryan said the July 5 fatality investigation is complete. Norwalk Assistant Law Director T. Douglas Clifford said the matter has been turned over to Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler's office, which has jurisdiction over any crashes that might result in felony charges.

Funeral arrangements for Schaefer will be announced by Walker Funeral Home, 98 W. Main St.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Managing Editor Joe Centers contributed to this story.

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