Shalersville crash that killed 3 was ‘completely preventable,’ investigators said
The Ravenna school district is in mourning the week before winter break, and investigators are focusing on the driver’s culpability
By Ben Wolford and Carter Eugene Adams
A single-vehicle crash in Shalersville that killed three people, including two middle schoolers, was “completely preventable,” said a state trooper investigating the incident that has left the Ravenna school community in mourning.
Around 3 p.m. Sunday, Julianne M. Shead, 41, of Ravenna, was driving north on Peck Road north of state Route 88 in a Chevrolet Silverado with her four children, a nephew and two other children inside.
Some number of the passengers were not wearing seat belts, and investigators said Shead was driving too fast and impaired, without providing further details.
After a bend in the road, Shead lost control, careened into the ditch on the right and slammed into a stand of trees. The impact ejected six passengers, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol media release.
Shead was taken to University Hospitals Portage Medical Center with critical injuries and may face charges, investigators said.
Three passengers died at the scene. Two were her daughters: Marlana J. Mullin, 22, of Streetsboro, and Cristine Shead, 12. The third was Evey Montecalvo, 13, of Ravenna.
Brandon Krotzer, 15, of Ravenna, who was also not related to the driver, was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Shead’s sons, Garret and Austin, both 14, were taken to UH Cleveland with serious injuries. And her nephew, Matthieu Glass, 19, was taken to UH Portage with minor injuries.
“Unsafe speed, impairment and not wearing an available safety belt continue to be leading causes of traffic fatalities, and this tragic incident involves all three,” said Lt. Jeffrey Greene, Ravenna post commander for the State Highway Patrol, in a statement. “Troopers will continue with a zero-tolerance approach in regard to these violations so families do not have to suffer through so much loss. Crashes such as this one are completely preventable.”
Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci told the Record-Courier that first responders discovered beer cans among the wreckage of the pickup, and Shead’s blood is being analyzed for evidence she was intoxicated. The Portager could not reach Vigluicci on Tuesday.
“Evangelina Montecalvo was a beautiful, smart and loving 13-year-old who tragically lost her life in a car accident,” reads a GoFundMe page set up to collect money for her funeral expenses. “This is a heartbreaking time and a nightmare for her mother, Melissa.”
Ravenna school administrators and counselors rushed to provide remote support for grieving students on Monday as word spread about the deaths and severe injuries of several of their classmates. The crash shattered the pre-holiday cheer with just one week left in an already chaotic semester.
Parents and teachers who knew the children left dazed messages on social media, and hundreds of people expressed heartbreak and anger toward Shead about what appears to be a series of fatal decisions Sunday afternoon.
“This is especially tragic with the age of the students,” Ravenna Superintendent Dennis Honkala told The Portager. “My heart goes out to the community. It’s just devastating.”
He said the district’s counselors are reaching out to students’ families and staff. In a post on Facebook, the district explained protocols for accessing services online or in person at Brown Middle School.
“Remote learning with students not being in the school district makes everything that much more difficult,” Honkala said. “But we’re in communication with our students and their families, and they do have access to our counselors. We’re doing a lot of listening right now. It’s still so fresh.”
Michael Indriolo contributed reporting.