Summit County man indicted for crash that killed KSU student

Dave O'Brien

A Delaware County grand jury has indicted a Summit County resident on two felony charges relating to a March traffic crash on Interstate 71 that killed a Kent State University sophomore heading home for spring break.

Joshua T. Morris, 32, with a most recent address in Sagamore Hills, was indicted Friday by a Delaware County grand jury on two counts of vehicular homicide, one second-degree felony and one third-degree felony, and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence, both first-degree misdemeanors, in connection with a traffic crash that caused the death of Rachael C. “Carli” Woodruff, 19, a KSU sophomore.

If convicted on the most serious felony charge, Morris faces two to eight years in prison.

Morris — who previously lived in Streetsboro, Stow and Cuyahoga Falls, according to Portage County court records — was driving northbound in a 2006 Chevrolet Express cargo van just after 2:30 p.m. on March 21 when he crossed three lanes of Interstate 71 and collided head-on with Woodruff’s 2001 Pontiac Grand Am, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Delaware post.

Investigators determined that Morris’ van traveled across the median of the highway, crossed all three southbound lanes of I-71 near mile post 129 and the rest area exit ramp before striking Woodruff’s vehicle. According to his indictment, Morris was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash.

Woodruff was transported by ambulance to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where she died of her injuries. An intervention specialist major at KSU, she was a native of Loveland, a city near Cincinnati.

Morris was not injured in the crash. The highway patrol investigation revealed that Morris became distracted by his cell phone or cell phone charger and lost control of the van, owned by his employer, Dara Toy Co. of Macedonia.

In May, Woodruff’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Morris and the Dara Toy Co. in Delaware County Common Pleas Court. It seeks to recover medical, funeral and burial expenses in excess of $13,000, and punitive and compensatory damages in excess of $25,000, according to Delaware County court records.

Dave O’Brien is a staff writer for the Record Courier.