EATON TWP – A brother of fatal crash victim Paul D. Sonego said he repeatedly warned him not to ride with fellow fatal crash victim Timothy Keating.
Mark Sonego said Keating, who crashed his 1965 Chrysler New Yorker around 8:15 p.m. Sunday on North Reed Road with Paul Sonego riding along, had a “death wish.” Keating and Paul Sonego were next door neighbors in the 9000 block of Root Road in North Ridgeville, about three miles from the crash site.
The Sonego family said Keating had been depressed and suicidal since his 2012 divorce and was a heavy drinker. They said he frequently rode his motorcycle through the neighborhood at high speeds.
“He was like a ticking time bomb,” said Paul A. Sonego, Paul Sonego’s son.
They said Sonego tried to look out for Keating but resisted driving with him. Mark Sonego said he talked his brother out of driving with Keating on several occasions.
“I said, ‘Paul, you want to help the guy and be nice because that’s your nature?’ Then do that but don’t hang with him,’” Mark Sonego said Monday. “I think Paul, just being the kind-hearted soul that he is, jumped in.”
Sue Sonego, Paul Sonego’s wife, said her husband, an executive chef for AVI Food Systems Inc., was cooking ribs and corn at a neighbor’s house when Keating rode up on a golf cart and asked Sonego to ride with him around 7:15 p.m. Sunday.
Keating was just south of Brokaw Road when he swerved right off the road over a ditch and flipped the New Yorker on its hood about 50 yards north from where he lost control, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol Elyria post. Trooper Ryan Pischel, the crash investigator, said a beer can was found at the scene and alcohol is believed to have contributed to the crash. A witness told the Chronicle-Telegram that Keating appeared to be speeding just before the crash.
Pischel said witnesses said an all-terrain vehicle was seen at the crash site, but police are unsure if Keating swerved to avoid it or the ATV showed up after the crash. The crash remains under investigation.
Sonego, 55, was one of four brothers who were raised in Parma. Sonego had a knack for cooking and was well organized, according to Mark Sonego, who said his brother ran the family restaurant at an early age.
Paul Sonego married in 1993 and moved to Root Road in 1997 where Keating, 47, was already living. Keating, an elevator and escalator mechanic for the Kone Corp., was the father of a 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter. Keating married in 1999, according to Julie Keating, his ex-wife.
While the Sonego’s described Timothy Keating as troubled, Julie Keating said he was in good spirits when she spoke to him Saturday. She denied he was troubled and described the divorce as amicable.
Keating described her ex-husband as “charming” and “outgoing” and a hardworking, loving father. “He was a good man,” she said.
Paul Sonego also was recalled fondly. The younger Sonego, 19, said he and his father had a heart-to-heart discussion about two weeks ago. Paul A. Sonego, a former sprinter at North Ridgeville High School, was leaving for Walsh University in North Canton where he earned an academic and athletic scholarship.
The elder Sonego said he was proud of his son.
“I’m just fortunate he was able to see me go to college and be on track to be a successful man,” Sonego said.
Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call the Ohio Highway Patrol Elyria post at (440) 365-5045.