Family of student killed in hit-skip crash speak out before jury trial

Colin with his younger brother, Aiden Pho.

Courtesy of Jonathan Pho

Colin with his younger brother, Aiden Pho.

Alexandria Manthey, TV2 Reporter

Jonathan Pho can’t drive past the Dairy Queen without thinking of him. He can’t take his younger son, Aiden, to school without thinking of him. He can’t watch the news or see the number 22 without thinking of him.

This is the life of a father who lost a son.

“People say ‘oh, you know, time heals all wounds,’” Jonathan said. “That doesn’t apply in a situation like this.”

Colin Pho, 22, was killed Aug. 22, 2022 in a hit-skip crash at the corner of Summit Road and State Route 261. He was struck from behind as he rode his electric scooter while traveling home from his part-time job.

Colin Pho was a 22-year-old junior at Kent State studying computer science. (Courtesy of Jonathan Pho)

Colin attended classes at Kent State’s Ashtabula campus for his first two years of college so he could live at home and save money. This was supposed to be Colin’s second year at Kent State’s main campus, but he was killed three days before fall semester started.

Colin’s full name was Colin James Vinh Pho. He has Irish and Vietnamese heritage. In Vietnamese, Vinh means “glory.”

To close friends and family, he was “CJ.”  

Colin’s mother, Debra Pho, describes him as “an amazing soul.” He was a computer science major with a theatre minor, and he had a passion for music and video games. He created YouTube videos in his free time and dreamed of becoming a game programmer.

Colin was their first born and always “the model son,” Jonathan said. His parents taught him to be polite and well mannered. He always stayed out of trouble. All his siblings looked up to him.

One of Jonathan’s pet peeves was Colin’s “atrocious handwriting.” Now, he says it hurts him that he will not receive any more handwritten notes from his beloved son.

 The family will miss the many memories with Colin, especially at Christmas time. This year, the first holiday without him, hit the family hard. 

When she was filling the stockings, Debra was puzzled. “I’m like, ‘Okay, I only have four. Who did I put one in already?’” She always put similar items in each child’s stocking, but this year was different. “Who already had one? I spent five minutes trying to figure it out. Before it hit me. I don’t do five. I do four.”

Each member of the family attends some type of grief counseling or therapy to help them cope, Jonathan said.

Because Colin was supposed to be living in Kent, Debra said his absence sometimes feels normal. 

“If you don’t think about anything, it still feels like he’s just at school,” Debra said, “and I can yell at him for not giving me a call.”

The grieving and the waiting was hard for the family.  

The Ohio State Highway Patrol identified the driver suspected of leaving the accident scene in September 2022. Five months passed before an arrest warrant was issued.

The family did not get the justice they were hoping for.  

Timothy Michael Brind Jr., 19, of Atwater was arraigned on Feb. 23 and charged with “failure to stop after an accident,” which is a third-degree felony when it ends in a fatality. A grand jury decided Brind was “not at fault” for causing the crash. 

The standard sentence in Ohio for a felony of the third degree in a hit-skip crash resulting in a death is one to five years of jail time and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Jonathan said the prosecutor told his family that Brind could possibly receive just 6 months of probation because of his clean record.

The Pho family is calling for a harsher sentence. 

“This 19-year-old kid has to be accountable to Colin’s death, there has to be justice here. He can’t just skate away because he had no prior charges,” Jonathan said. “He has to be accountable with my son’s death.”

The months of waiting was exhausting for the family, Debra said. 

“It just doesn’t let you adjust, because there’s always that thing that’s looming ahead of you,” she said.

Brind’s discovery hearing was March 24, his preliminary hearing May 2 and a possible jury trial was set for May 16 but then pushed back to May 17.

It seems suspicious to Debra that Brind fled the scene if he wasn’t at fault.

“Bottom line he ran, he left.” she said, “and the hardest things that have gone through my mind have been my son lying in the road and nobody there with him.”

Awaiting justice

Debra and Jonathan spoke to their lawyer about filing a possible wrongful death lawsuit after Brind’s jury trial is over.

Police told Jonathan that Brind’s grandmother turned him in. The Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed Brind’s grandmother contacted the Patrol’s Ravenna Post after seeing a media release about the crash.

Jonathan said the police testimony showed that Brind explained the damage to his black Dodge Charger by telling his family he hit a deer that night.

Jonathan spends a lot of his time looking over police records and videos. This made the grieving process harder, he said, but he wants to piece all the details together, so he isn’t surprised in court.

Crash report courtesy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The crash report states that Colin was riding his electric scooter eastbound in the right lane of Summit Road at the intersection of state Route 261 near Dix Stadium. Brind was driving in the left lane. Colin merged into the left lane and was struck from behind.

The driver-side mirror of Brind’s car was found at the scene—the crash investigation report states his car sustained minor damage to its left front area. 

“That doesn’t sound logical to me,” Jonathan said. “The damage was on the left side of the vehicle.”

Jonathan said if the car hit Colin from behind while he was merging, like the crash report states, the damage should have been on the right side of Brind’s vehicle.

A PARTA bus traveling in the opposite lane captured a few seconds of video leading up to the crash. Jonathan’s lawyer was able to get the video from police. According to the Highway Patrol, the footage is not currently available for release to the public since the case is still pending. 

The video shows Colin on the right-hand side of the road, Jonathan said, with reflective lights at the front and rear of the scooter.

Debra can’t bear to watch the video, she said.

Photo from the scene of the crash (Courtesy of the Ohio State Highway Patrol)

The initial photos of the crash site taken by the Highway Patrol show a pool of blood from the crash that is “quite large,” Jonathan said.

The speed limit on this section of Summit Road is 45 mph, which seems fast to the Pho family. 

The Pho family plans to start a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in honor of their son. They want to bring more awareness to scooter safety and to work with legislators on things like adding bike paths and lowering speed limits where electric scooters are common. But first, they are working on coping with the trauma of their loss. 

The family also worked with a former dean at the Ashtabula campus to plant a tree and install a bench in Colin’s memory. Debra said it will serve as a reminder for students to be careful.

Loss lives on

Colin was an organ donor. 

Jonathan remembers taking Colin to the BMV to get his driver’s license—Colin asked him if he should sign up to be an organ donor. Jonathan told Colin it was his decision. The family never thought just a few years later they would find themselves using it. 

Lifebanc told the Phos that Colin’s organs have the potential to help more than 200 people, and that 886 grafts of Colin’s tissue have been distributed to others, the agency stated. 

The number 886 surprised Jonathan, not only because of how big the donation was, but because 8+8+6 adds up to the number 22.

It was Colin’s favorite number.

Even Colin’s first email address included three numbers that added up to 22.

“It’s gotta be more than a coincidence,” Jonathan said.

Colin’s eyes are in different parts of the world. One is now in Michigan and another in the United Arab Emirates. 

His mother said his pride and joy was his hair, which someone else will get to love now.

Colin was tall, with long bones that will now help those with bone disorders. 

The family said that this is one way Colin will live on.

His cheerful voice, however, is lost to them forever.  

To become an organ donor through Lifebanc, visit


Alexandria Manthey is a TV2 reporter. Contact her at [email protected].