December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Police say medical issue was factor in high-speed crash

A North Ridgeville police officer recorded this vehicle traveling at 97 mph before it rear-ended another vehicle on Route 83. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

A North Ridgeville police officer recorded this vehicle traveling at 97 mph before it rear-ended another vehicle on Route 83. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Police believe the elderly driver of a car that rear-ended another vehicle at nearly 100 mph Monday was experiencing a medical problem.

“Preliminary indications are that some kind of medical condition was involved,” police Capt. Marti Garrow said Tuesday.

Police say Frank Cimino, 88, of Avon, was driving his 2006 Buick Lucerne southbound on Route 83 when he crashed into the back of a 2013 Mazda CX-5 near Dorchester Avenue.

A North Ridgeville policeman driving north on Route 83 clocked Cimino’s vehicle traveling at 97 mph just before the crash, Garrow said.

“He witnessed the crash,” Garrow said.

Cimino was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center. He was listed in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

The driver of the Mazda, Patricia Habenicht, 66, of North Ridgeville, was taken by ambulance to St. JohnWest Shore Hospital in Westlake. Her condition was not available.

Police do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

The impact pushed the Mazda off the left side of Route 83 where it bounced into and out of a ditch before flipping over.

“It went end-over-end and luckily landed on its wheels,” Garrow said. “It did a complete flip and sprayed a lot of mud and dirt onto the road. The Buick was doing almost 100, and even if the other car was doing 45 mph, that’s a 55 mph difference.”

The Buick’s engine compartment smashed back almost to the firewall in front of the dashboard.

Cimino’s wife was a passenger in his car, but police had no information on her, including her name. She was also taken to St. John WestShore Hospital.

Route 83 was closed between Center Ridge and Mills roads for a time following the crash, which remains under investigation.