A Hocking College student died early Friday morning after being ejected from an SUV that had left U.S. Rt. 33 near Johnson Road and rolled across the median and into the oncoming traffic lane, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol media release issued later Friday morning.
The man, Connor Douglas Seevers, 19, of Uhrichsville, Ohio, was a passenger in a car driven by Joshua M. Hughes, 19, of Springfield, Ohio. In addition to Seevers, the car carried five other passengers, all of whom suffered injuries of varying severity, the Patrol release said.
A family member of one of the injured passengers, John Douglas "Jack" Fitch, 23, of Columbus, told The NEWS Saturday that Fitch had died from injuries suffered in the Friday morning crash, Saturday morning at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
OSHP Sgt. Christopher Goss, in an email late Friday morning, said it's his understanding that all but one of the occupants (of the SUV) attended Hocking College. A spokesperson for the college confirmed that on Friday.
No other vehicles were involved in the crash, the release said, which makes these circumstances different from a two-car crash that occurred Thursday morning on U.S. Rt. 33 at the Johnson Road intersection. That crash, which has sparked renewed discussion about possibly eliminating left turns off the four-lane highway at that spot, involved a young driver allegedly failing to yield as she made such a left turn onto Johnson Road from Rt. 33 northwest-bound. See this story.
Troopers from the Athens Post of the State Highway Patrol are still investigating the one-vehicle fatal crash that took place at about 2 a.m. Friday. That investigation will include toxicology reports on the driver, Sgt. Goss confirmed Friday.
The media release said that Hughes was driving a 2004 Saturn Vue (SUV) northwest on U.S. Rt. 33, northwest of the Johnson Road/River Road intersection, when the vehicle veered off the left side of the highway into the center median and rolled, coming to rest on its side and blocking the southeast-bound lanes of Rt. 33. The highway was blocked for three hours in both directions after the accident, the release said. Sgt. Goss said it occurred between the Johnson Road turn-off and the Ohio Rt. 682 exit to the northwest.
Seevers, who was ejected from the car, was pronounced dead on the scene by the Athens County Coroner, the release said.
Mckale Marie Losey, 19, of Glouster, and Fitch were airlifted from the scene by Med-Flight and taken to Grant Medical Center with serious injuries, the release said. The family member of Jack Fitch said he never regained consciousness from his injuries, which he suffered when he, like Seevers, was ejected from the SUV. The hospital wuld not confirm Fitch's death on Saturday, saying he was still registered as being in the hospital's critical-care unit.
Cassandra Lynn Carl, 18, of Salem, Ohio, and Lila I. Mortenson, 17, of Nelsonville were transported to OhioHealth O'Bleness Hospital by Athens County EMS then airlifted by Med-Flight to Grant Medical Center, according to the release.
Elden Demond Burnside, 20, of Wooster and Hughes, the driver, were transported by Athens County EMS to O'Bleness Hospital where they were treated and released.
Asked about whether driver impairment was suspected OSHP Sgt. Goss replied, "Due to the severity of the crash we will be completing a thorough, in-depth investigation into the cause of crash. This would include potential reconstruction of the crash, obtaining any digital/computer evidence from the vehicle, interviewing those involved, and obtaining toxicology reports from the driver."
In regard to Hocking College students being involved in the accident, Hocking spokesperson Tim Brunicardi issued the following release late Friday morning (before Fitch passed away on Saturday):
"The Hocking College campus community is shocked and saddened by this tragic event. As you most likely know, Hocking College student Connor Seevers, 19, of Uhrichsville passed away in the early morning Friday, October 11, 2019, as a result of injuries received in an automobile accident. Seevers was a first-year student in the Music Management program. The College wishes to express sincere condolences to Connor's family and friends. We are currently providing counseling services to the campus community for those seeking assistance with the grieving process."
Brunicardi confirmed that in addition to Seevers, all but one of the occupants of the crash vehicle are Hocking College students.