A retired defense analyst and a 2017 graduate of Miamisburg High School became the latest victims of area wrong-way interstate fatalities in a four-vehicle crash that shutdown I-675 lanes several hours overnight Tuesday.
Police are still seeking answers as to what caused former Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employee and Beavercreek resident Melvin Bonie Jr., 69, to drive northbound into southbound lanes late Monday night, eventually colliding with a vehicle driven by 18-year-old Kalip Grimm, killing both of them.
Authorities also said Tuesday they did not know where Bonie was coming from, his destination or his vehicle’s speed on the interstate.
“I don’t know that we’ll ever know exactly,” said John Davis of the Centerville Police Department.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Monday, a 911 caller driving southbound on I-675 exited at Ohio 48 and said “a car passed me going the wrong way down the exit ramp.”
Bonie’s vehicle clipped two others between north of the Ohio 48 interchange, police said, before it hit head on just south of the Wilmington Pike exit with the one driven by Grimm, bringing the area’s wrong-way interstate fatality death toll to 12 since April 2015.
Seven Centerville police units and crews from Sugarcreek Twp., Montgomery County and the Ohio State Patrol responded to the accident, which forced the closure of all southbound lanes from Wilmington Pike to Ohio 48 until about 3:10 a.m., Davis said.
Davis said Thursday afternoon the department was compiling data and interviewing witnesses.
“We’ve still got a bunch of people to talk to,” he said.
The speed of Bonie’s vehicle at the time of the head-on collision may never be known, Davis said.
“It’s very difficult from a witness’s standpoint for somebody to judge the speed of a vehicle coming at them when they are doing highway speeds as well,” he said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever know exactly.”
In the past 30 months, wrong way fatalities have occurred on all of the interstates surrounding Dayton. Two crashes have occurred on I-75 in downtown Dayton, two on I-70 in Clark County and one on I-75 in Fairfield.
Across the state, there have been 25 wrong-way crashes this year, according to Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Bruning.
Those who know both Grimm and Bonie said Tuesday they were learning to deal with the loss of their friends.
“It’s pretty hard to process,” said 2017 Miamisburg High grad Tyler Marker. “I know a lot of us are really in shock still.”
Grimm had just taken on a new job and “was doing great in life,” he said.
Marker said he met Grimm in eighth grade when both played lacrosse and became good friends after being in the same English class as sophomores.
“He was always a friendly dude” who was also “a very caring and understanding person,” Marker said.
“I love him,” he said. “I know a lot of us do and my heart goes out to his family.”
Bonie longtime friend Karen Rase of Beavercreek said she was in “so much shock” after hearing about the accident.
Bonie was a “good guy” who became a successful wine consultant after retiring as an analyst from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where they both worked for decades, Rase said.
The New Orleans native spent much of his retirement traveling, collecting art, enjoying dinners, she said.
“He never made ordinary stuff other people would make,” she said. “When he did cook…it was roast duck and he always had the perfect wine. ”
Bonie was a wine consultant with Tramonte & Sons, according to the company’s website.
He was a graduate of the University of New Orleans, according to his Facebook page.
Staff Writers Sean Cudahy and Chris Stewart contributed to this report.
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