By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
Five area residents survived a dramatic drive off a cliff on to a Lake Erie beach early Saturday morning, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ashtabula Police Department.
“Around 3:05 a.m. a vehicle traveling north on Union Avenue failed to yield at a stop sign and drove through a residential lawn and over a cliff,” according to a press release prepared by Lt. J.R. Sutton of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The vehicle tumbled down a grass embankment several hundred feet to a Lake Erie beach, according to OHP and witnesses at the scene.
Tyler Ashley, 26, of Ashtabula, was driving the car which had four passengers, according to the OHP. The passengers were Katrina Welton, 22, of Ashtabula; Benjamin Ashcroft, 22 of North Kingsville; Shawn Ryder, 25 of Ashtabula and Brandyn Frampton 21, of Kingsville Township, according to the OHP release.
“All the occupants were transported from the scene by ambulance to Ashtabula County Medical Center in Ashtabula,” the release states.
“We were the first on the scene and we immediately began assisting the victims,” said Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell of the efforts of Ashtabula Police Officer James Hildebrand.
Stell said two of the victims told police that another victim was ejected from the vehicle into the water. He said they were able to pull the victim from the water and run up the hill to call 911 for assistance.
“I heard something and went out front and looked around,” said Tom Laveck whose driveway the car had driven through on the way to the beach below. He said he didn’t find anything at first and then emergency vehicles began arriving.
“There were all kinds of fire engines and police out front,” he said.
The landing point on the beach was very close to the water’s edge, Laveck said as a small group of people took pictures from his deck as the car was towed up the side of a hill.
“It was close to the edge. A couple of more rolls they would have been in the water,” he said.
Laveck said the car drove between a fire hydrant and a telephone pole to get on to his driveway. He said the distance between the pole and the hydrant is only about the width of a car.
“There is blood all over the stairs. The fire department had their hands full,” he said.
Dominic Caruso, owner of Dominic’s Wrecker Service, said hauling the car up the cliff wasn’t that difficult. “It’s just making sure you have enough cable,” he said after the job was completed.
Stell said the Ohio State Highway Patrol is handling the crash investigation because of their expertise in conducting major traffic crash investigations.
“Two of the people in the vehicle were in very serious condition,” Stell said. The identity of the people in serious condition was not available on Saturday evening.
The crash is still under investigation, according to the OHP.