Fatalities decline on Portage roads

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By Marci Piltz Record-Courier staff writer The number of fatal crashes in Portage County involving the use of alcohol has decreased slightly since 2001, following a recently announced statewide trend. According to statistics provided by the Ravenna Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Kent Police Department, there have been 20 fatal accidents so far this year, with 23 people killed. Last year, the county recorded 26 fatal crashes with 29 people killed. That total includes nine fatal crashes handled by the city of Kent, which saw only one fatal accident in August of this year. The first traffic fatality of the year was recorded on Jan. 27, when 63-year-old Velma Brotherton of Kent was killed in a two-car crash on S.R. 43 in Suffield. The most recent fatality occurred on Christmas, when Michael A. DeMattio, 30, of Ravenna, died after his car went left of center on S.R. 5 in Paris Township, striking a car driven by John R. Runion, 36, of Warren. The crash is still under investigation. The county saw two double-fatal accidents this year. The first was a dirt bike accident that occurred May 5 in Atwater and killed both Brian McPeak, 30, and Eric Rhinehart, 32, both of Atwater. The other occurred on Freedom Street in Ravenna on Nov. 1. Killed were Ravenna residents Raymond Stewart, 77, and his wife, Marietta, 79. The county also recorded a triple-fatal accident Aug. 31 on S.R. 224 in Suffield Township. Killed were Elmer Ries, 72, his wife Doris, 73, and their longtime friend, Lois Maxine Glaus, 71. Of the 18 fatal accidents seen by the OHP this year, seven of those, or 41 percent, involved the use of alcohol, said Lt. George Williams, post commander of the Ravenna Post of the OHP. Of the 26 fatal accidents in 2001, a total of 11 involved the use of alcohol

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