HENRIETTA TWP. — An Elyria man died Saturday morning when his Ford F150 swerved off Gore Orphanage Road and struck a guardrail leading into a sharp turn, sending the vehicle catapulting at least 40 feet into the woods, Ohio Highway Patrol troopers said.
Jake Nolan, 18, of Harwood Drive, died instantly of severe head and neck injuries sustained after the truck went airborne and crashed into a thicket of trees and brush, troopers and county Coroner Paul Matus said.
Troopers and Camden Township firefighters were called to Gore Orphanage and Becker roads around 12:30 a.m. Saturday after a resident reported hearing a “large bang” and seeing headlights in the woods, said Highway Patrol Lt. Glenn Peterson.
When emergency crews arrived, they found Nolan lying in the woods about 10 to 15 feet from his vehicle, while the truck was resting in a bramble of trees about 50 feet west of Gore Orphanage Road.
Peterson said Nolan was headed south on Gore Orphanage Road when he failed to negotiate a curve just south of the Becker Road intersection.
A pair of skid marks about 100 feet long — caused by Nolan’s truck tires — led into the guardrail on the west side of the road.
The pickup went off the road and struck the guardrail at high speed — the exact speed was unknown — which sent it 10 to 15 feet airborne and into the woods about 40 feet before it struck a large tree and came to rest, Peterson said.
Nolan was likely ejected from the truck when it struck the tree because he was not wearing a seatbelt, Peterson said.
The truck was totaled, and it took firefighters and two tow trucks a few hours to retrieve the vehicle from the woods, using cables to slowly pull it through the trees.
Peterson said the cause of the crash still is under investigation, and it’s unknown whether drugs or alcohol were a factor.
Nolan’s family members in Elyria were reeling in the wake of his sudden death, and they declined to comment.
The fatal Saturday crash was the second in as many days in the north-northwest portion of Lorain County, Peterson said. A day prior to Nolan’s crash, a Wakeman woman was killed on Vermilion Road in Brownhelm Township when the motorcycle she was riding on wrecked and struck a tree.
Tara Redmond, 22, died Friday around 12:30 a.m. while riding with Jody McKinney, 32, of Vermilion, troopers said.
The Ohio Highway Patrol suspects alcohol was a factor in that accident, which is still under investigation and no charges have been filed. McKinney was taken to CHP Regional Medical Center where he remains in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Friday and Saturday’s crashes bring the number of traffic fatalities in Lorain County this year to 10, Peterson said. Last year, there was a total of 27 fatalities.
“It’s up to us to make sure we’re careful,” Peterson said. But with two fatalities within just a day in the Vermilion area, Peterson said troopers are now designating that portion of the county a “problem behavior zone” where they’ll step up patrols and try to curb aggressive driving.
Peterson said troopers will also meet with county engineers to determine what can be done to make roads in that area safer.
Last year, troopers responded to a number of fatalities on state Route 18 and southern Lorain County by stepping up patrols and also installing various traffic control devices, such as double stop signs at intersections.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.