SYCAMORE — Mohawk senior Audrey Perkins lost her life as she lost control of her car at 1397 CH 16 near Sycamore on Tuesday morning and if something is not done, she might not be the last, according to area residents.
According to the Wyandot County Sheriff’s Office report, Perkins struck a utility pole, was ejected from her vehicle, which was torn in half, had no pulse upon arrival and was declared dead at the scene.
Jim Babcock reported the accident as it occurred directly across the road from his residence.
“I was standing at the microwave and I heard the noise coming, because we’ve had four (accidents) here before,” he said. “When you hear that sound, you know someone is in trouble. You (could) hear the car screeching.
“I saw her hit the ditch and then hit the pole,” Babcock added. “I called 911 but (Audrey) was already dead upon impact. When you see the driver’s side door wrapped around the pole, there’s just no way. It wouldn’t have mattered if she was wearing a seatbelt or not.”
His wife Barb said she feared the worst after seeing the scene.
“I told the sheriff’s department, ‘Whoever is in that car is dead,’ because there is no way they could live through that with half of the car on this side of the road and the rest of it in the field,” she said.
About a half mile down the road, from which Perkins’ car came, resident and friend of the family Dave Wertz remembered seeing the vehicle.
“I thought it looked like she was going way too fast,” he said. “She was probably late for school.”
Mohawk High School begins classes at 8 a.m. and the accident was reported to the WCSO at 7:56 a.m. as the vehicle was heading towards the school.
“It looked like she over-corrected and went back to the right and into the pole,” Wertz added.
His wife Beth was pulling out of the driveway to take her son to school when Perkins went by.
“(Dave) said it shook the house and a neighbor said it shook his barn, but by the time I got (to the scene), you could only see the dust still rolling,” she said. It’s scary when you know them. It just hasn’t sunk in yet.”
While Perkins is the first to lose her life on that road in recent memory, the area residents said it is not uncommon for wrecks to occur on CH 16.
“We’ve had four in the past four years or so,” Jim Babcock said. “This goes on every day from 7:30-8 a.m. and from 3-3:30 p.m. I told (a deputy), ‘You have to do something. You can’t just be here tomorrow, but rather periodically to let (drivers) know you’re going to be here.’ (Drivers) just fly through here. You don’t want to be here.”
“We watch these kids run this road every day and they’re flying at 80-100 miles per hour,” Barb Babcock said. “Nothing stops them.”
The Babcocks and Wertzes both recalled when former Mohawk student Kim Shellhorn wrecked in the same area.
“Shellhorn ended up in our property when she was 16 years old,” Barb Babcock said. “She was life-flighted to (Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center). Another boy spun out of control and only lived because he hit the tail end of his car on the tree at our property.”
“I’ve complained about this knot down here for years,” Dave Wertz said. “This is the second girl. Luckily, the first one made it.”
Heading westbound from the Wertz’ residence, the road dips down shortly before reaching the Babcock’s residence. If a car were to hit that dip at a high speed, the impact may cause the vehicle to bounce off the road and loose control.
Dave Wertz, who worked in road construction, said the entire road needs to be changed before another accident occurs again.
“They went through years ago and moved all of the telephone poles to the (north) side of the road and they were supposed to widen the road, but they never did,” he said. “They paved all of these side roads, but this road has never been paved. It’s only been chip and seal, which is a mess.”
“It’s that same spot,” Beth Wertz said.
As a life-long resident of the area and having lived on the road for the past 40 years, Jim Babcock said the road’s traffic has gotten worse.
“I’ve lived on this road all my life, but in the past 6-7 years, it’s really picked up traffic,” he said. “It used to be around 11 p.m. and you wouldn’t see a car until morning. Now, you hear them all night long.”
He said he knows of other vehicles that regularly speed in the area, notably a silver Kia Soul.
“You can’t be going 80-90 miles per hour like these kids are doing,” Barb Babcock said. “I never thought we would have to sit here and watch them pick up a body. I can’t imagine how (Perkins’) parents are going to feel when they (got) that call.”
Perkins was set to graduate May 26 and join the Marines soon thereafter. Now she is in the care of Hoffman, Gottfried and Mack Funeral Home and Crematory.
“Something just really needs done,” Dave Wertz said.
By PATRICK MASSARA