2 motorcyclists killed in crash push state total to 133 for year

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Family, friends talk about fatal motorcycle crash victims

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two motorcyclists who started wearing helmets after a friend died in a crash weeks ago were killed in crash Sunday coming home from a large regional cycling event.

The crash brings Ohio’s total to 133 motorcycle deaths this year from 3,161 overall crashes in which motorcyclists were involved. Motorcycle deaths in the state had spiked at 200 in 2016, state statistics show.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol Xenia Post is investigating the deaths of Brook Fudge, 23, of Xenia, the driver, and his girlfriend, 25-year-old Sherill Cruea, the passenger on a 2003 Harley Davidson. Both were wearing helmets.

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The crash happened after the Devil’s Staircase Hill Climb, which attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts every year to the Oregonia area in Warren County. Fudge and Cruea were killed Sunday evening on U.S. 42 while heading home after attending the event.

They were heading northbound on U.S. 42 when they struck a Dodge Charger in the intersection with Spring Valley Paintersville Road.

The driver of the Charger, 29-year-old Gregory Davidson, was treated by medics at the scene. His passenger, 27-year-old Julie Wells, of Lebanon, was taken to Greene County Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries not considered life-threatening, according to the patrol.

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Who was at-fault in the crash has not been determined. Early indications are that the Charger failed to yield to the motorcycle, but one witness reported the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to Lt. Matt Schmenk, OSHP Xenia Post commander.

“Just because a motorcycle passes a car at a high rate of speed a mile from the crash scene doesn’t mean at the time the crash happened that motorcycle was still going at that high rate of speed,” Schmenk said. “Just because someone pulls out from a stop sign doesn’t necessarily make them totally at-fault, if we find out the other vehicle involved was traveling well over the posted speed limit … ”

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor, Schmenk said.

Friends and family of the victims said during interviews Monday they were still in shock.

Fudge and Cruea started wearing helmets after their friend, 25-year-old David Hill, died in a motorcycle crash in Xenia about three weeks prior, according to Sherill’s mother, Tonie Cruea. Hill was not wearing a helmet and suffered significant head injuries before he died while in intensive care at Miami Valley Hospital, she said.

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Tonie Cruea said her daughter was a gifted athlete and “a very sweet and giving person.” She had “a heart of gold” and always had a smile on her face, Tonie said.

“She would do anything for anybody,” Tonie said. “She never took anything for granted. She always said, ‘In a blink of an eye everything can change.’ Don’t ever take anything or anyone for granted.”

Kyle Minix said Fudge was his best friend, the kind of person who “if your truck broke down in the middle of the night … you called him. He’d be right there with you.”

Minix, who is also grieving the loss of his friend David Hill, echoed Sherill Cruea’s statements as recalled by her mother.

“Live everyday like it’s your last,” he said. “Hold your loved ones tight. Tomorrow is never promised. And this right here is an example of that.”


Fatal motorcycle crash statistics in Ohio

*2017

133 deaths in 3,161 crashes

2016 

200 deaths in 4,235 crashes

2015

163 deaths in 3,800 crashes

2014

140 deaths in 3,651 crashes

2013

133 deaths in 3,768 crashes

2012

163 deaths in 4,511 crashes

*Denotes year-to-date total

Source: Ohio State Highway Patrol

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