West Chester teen killed in northern Ohio crash

Sarah Towler (Source: Lakota East High School)
Sarah Towler (Source: Lakota East High School)

PERRY TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - A West Chester teenager has died in a crash on I-71 in northern Ohio.

Sarah Towler, 18, was a 2011 graduate of Lakota East High School.

Police say Towler was a passenger in a car driven by Derick Lynce, 19, of Cincinnati. Kenneth Crocker Jr., 20, of Forest Park, and Bryce Murphy, 18, of West Chester, were also passengers in the car.

The crash occurred Tuesday night at about 6:30 p.m. on I-71 near mile post 191 in Perry Township.

According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, a Nissan Altima driven by Brian Lear, 33, of Rocky River, was traveling in the left lane and Lynce was driving in the right lane when he lost control of his vehicle.

After losing control, Lynce crossed over into the left lane, striking the left rear corner of the Altima. His Hyundai Elantra continued off the left side of the roadway and struck the median barrier. It continued through the median barrier, spun and struck the median barrier again. It then continued back onto the left northbound lane before coming to a rest in the median.

Towler was taken to Cleveland Metro Hospital by helicopter, where she died. Crocker and Murphy were taken to Ashland Samaritan Hospital with minor injuries. Lynce was taken to Ashland Samaritan Hospital and later transferred by air to Cleveland Metro Hospital with serious injuries. Lear was not hurt.

Police say Lynce and Towler were not wearing seatbelts.

Towler attended Life Connections in Middletown the final semester of her senior year.

"She was well liked by both her classmates and teachers and had the potential to accomplish great things in life," said Lakota East principal Keith Kline. "Lakota East is saddened by her loss and send our condolences to Sarah's family and friends."

Counselors will be available to assist students and staff who need support as a result of the tragic news.

Witnesses told police that the Elantra was traveling at a high rate of speed before the crash. Alcohol was present at the scene, but its unclear if it was a factor in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation by the Ashland post of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

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