Lauren Forthofer said her stomach dropped when younger sister Lane stepped into her room early Saturday morning with a somber face.
“She was coming in to wake me up because we were supposed to go to the theater. The first thing she said was, ‘Patrick Desouza is in a coma. And A.J.’s dead,’” said Lauren, a senior broadcast journalism major.
Andrew “A.J.” Vincent was killed in a car crash early Saturday morning less than a block from his home in Elyria. Three others in the car were injured, two of them Kent State students.
Vincent, an 18-year-old freshman criminal science major at Lorain County Community College, pulled out of his driveway around 1:30 a.m. to take his three friends, Patrick Desouza, Cody Toboz and Mitchell Johnson, to their homes.
Desouza and Toboz, both 19, are freshmen at Kent State; Desouza is an exploratory major and Toboz studies business. Johnson, 20, is not in school.
According to Elyria police, as Vincent was crossing the intersection at the end of his street, a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu hit the 2005 Ford Focus the four friends were in. The impact pushed Vincent’s car about 1,000 feet down the street, pinning the boys inside.
Mark Ralich, 21, who was driving the Malibu, was also pinned inside. Ralich was driving about 60 mph down the 25 mph street.
Toboz was able to crawl from the wreck and get help, but the three other men were unconscious, said Lane, a freshman education major and close friend to the others.
Tonya, Vincent’s 32-year-old sister, heard the crash and rushed out of the home she shares with her siblings and mother. She ran down the street and saw the Ford Focus — her mother’s car — and started screaming for her little brother and tried to help him by talking to him and attempted to hold his hand.
“He was just a baby,” she told the Northern Ohio Morning Journal.
When officers arrived at the scene, they immediately called the Elyria Fire Department to cut the four from the car. They also had to extricate Ralich from the Malibu by cutting off the top of his car, which he was driving by himself.
It took almost two hours for the firefighters to completely cut away the cars.
LifeFlight was called to the scene to take the victims to Cleveland-based MetroHealth Regional Medical Center. Vincent was immediately pronounced dead. Desouza and Johnson were both in coma, Toboz had minor injuries and Ralich had no injuries, Lane said.
She said Desouza and Johnson are awake now, and a hospital spokeswoman said they were both in good condition.
“Patrick (was) bleeding in his brain,” Lauren said Tuesday. “He’s very confused, and I don’t think he can grasp that his best friend is gone.”
She said the four men grew up together, went to the same high school and played hockey together.
“They were a very close-knit group,” Lauren said. “They all used to hang out at A.J.’s house almost every day after school. I was always jealous of their family-like bond.”
Contact Jessica White at [email protected]