UTICA — Troopers from the Granville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash that occurred at 10:53 p.m. Friday on Reynolds Road near Utica. Preliminary information indicates that a 1998 Dodge Dakota was traveling southbound on Reynolds Road when it went off the side of the road, striking a tree after being pursued by an officer from the Utica Police Department.
The driver of the vehicle, Spencer Lorenza, 17, was taken to Grant Medical Center by MedFlight. He was listed in fair condition this morning. A passenger, Hannah Gattrell, 16, was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Licking County Coroner’s Office. They are both students at Utica High School.
“It appears there was an altercation Friday evening,” North Fork Local Schools Superintendent Scott Hartley told the News this morning. Hartley was unsure if the incident originated on school premises at the football game or if it occurred afterward. He was unable to share further information on the incident.
Utica Police Chief Bob Curtis declined comment until further information is released by the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office. John Rodeniser, chairman of the Public Service Committee, which oversees the Utica Police Department, was unsure of police department protocol regarding jurisdiction or pursuit policies.
Police officers are able to continue a pursuit that begins within the corporation limits, according to Utica Mayor Larry Friesel, who was unable to give any more details on pursuit policy. OSHP officials are scheduled to meet with Curtis today for release of information.
Friesel expressed his personal sympathy for the Gattrell family. “I’ve known the little girl and the family since she was born,” he said. “She’s played in about every sport with my granddaughter. It’s tragic.”
The Ohio State Highway Patrol was not involved in the pursuit, according to OSHP Lt. Darrin Blosser.
“We’re investigating the fatality portion. Charges will be reviewed by the prosecutor’s office, and we’ll be guided by them,” said Blosser. “I’m not sure what angle they will take as far as any charges that may be filed.”
Licking County Prosecutor Ken Oswalt was unavailable for comment this morning.