All six pronounced dead at scene of crash

The father of one of six University students killed in a car crash on their way home from Spring Break stayed up until 2:30 Saturday morning but said he was not too worried when his daughter did not return to their Brook Park home.

Later that morning, police told Dave McCarthy the news.

His daughter, Sara Jean, and her friends were killed when their minivan crossed the median and hit a tractor-trailer on Interstate 71 in Verona, Ky., about 25 miles south of Cincinnati.

McCarthy, a Middleburg Heights fire lieutenant, said he has responded to too many accidents while on the job.

“I never thought it would happen to me,” he said.

The six women, all 19 years old, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Boone County Coroner Doug Stith.

Police said Jessica Hedlund, of Perrysburg, was driving the minivan about 9 p.m. Friday when she lost control.

The minivan spun and continued backward into oncoming traffic. The tractor-trailer, which struck the minivan’s passenger side, was unable to avoid the collision, police said.

Also killed were: Andrea Bakker, of Strongsville; Jacqueline Ahlers, of Vandalia; and Michelle Saunders and Ryan Leigh Foss, both of Huron.

Five of the six lived together in a dormitory suite. Hedlund lived on a different floor, said Beth Bakker, Andrea’s mother.

“They shared everything,” Bakker said. “They watched over each other.”

The women were returning from a weeklong trip to Panama City, Fla., said Andrea Bakker’s aunt, Connie McGinnis.

“(Andrea) called her mom and let her know how much fun that they were having. They were on the beach every day,” said McGinnis, who gathered with family at Bakker’s home.

Hedlund’s mother, Barbara, said her daughter called home Wednesday and left a message wishing her parents a happy wedding anniversary.

A sixth roommate, Susan Baughman, 19, of Strongsville, skipped the trip to go to her sister’s wedding shower. All were sophomores except for Saunders, who was a freshman.

Bowling Green President Sidney Ribeau said in a statement the University would try to help students and families deal with the loss.

“Our hearts go out with sympathy and solace to the families and friends of these young women whose lives have ended so tragically at such a promising and hope-filled time of their lives,” Ribeau said.

Boone County Sheriff’s Maj. Jack Banks said severe winds and heavy rain were reported in the area and may have contributed to the accident.