3 Avon teens hurt in crash, 1-6-06

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1-8-06 2 teens still critical after car crash

1-10-06 Avon students still hospitalized

1-11-06 Avon students still hospitalized

1-3-07 Joey Cachat recovers

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 1-7-06, by Jeff Mohrman

``3 Avon teens hurt in crash

AVON -- Three Avon High School students were seriously injured when their car veered off Detroit Road and slammed into a tree shortly after they left school Friday [1-6-06]. All three were flown to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Avon police Sgt. Kevin Collins said.

The two passengers, Daniel Skinner, 15, and Joseph Cachat, 16, both were in critical condition late Friday, a nursing supervisor said, and the driver, Daniel Kelley, 16, was being treated in the emergency room.

Emergency crews from the Avon and Avon Lake fire departments responded to the scene. The eastbound lane of Detroit Road was closed briefly while rescuers worked to remove the boys from the 2002 Pontiac Grand Am.

The boys had just left the high school and were eastbound on Detroit Road between Hayes Street and French Creek Road when the accident occurred.

"The vehicle drove off the right side of the road, over-corrected to the left and then over-corrected again going off the (south) side of the road, striking a tree head-on," Collins said.

Neither of the occupants was wearing seat belts and both front airbags were deployed. It does not appear alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash, Collins said.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 1-7-06, by MATT SUMAN, Morning Journal Writer

``3 teens hurt in after-school crash

AVON -- Three Avon High School students were injured yesterday after leaving school when the car they were in struck a tree on Detroit Road near the school, according to Avon officials.

Joseph Cachat, 16, of Avon, and a 15-year-old Avon boy were listed in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, according to the nursing supervisor.

The condition of the driver, Daniel Kelley, 16, was not available last night as he was being evaluated in the emergency room, according to the nursing supervisor.

Kristina Buller, assistant principal at Avon High School, said the three boys were sophomores at the high school.

Kelley was taken from the scene to Community Health Partners and flown by medical helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center, according to Avon police. Cachat and the 15-year-old boy were taken to Avon Emergency Care Center from the scene and then flown by medical helicopter to MetroHealth, according to Avon police.

Kelley was driving the brown, 2002 Pontiac Grand Am east on Detroit Road when it slammed into a tree a few feet off the road, according to police. He apparently drove off the right side of the road, swerved left and swerved right again and hit the tree, police said.

The accident happened about 3:15 p.m., just east of the Church of God, Avon police Sgt. Dan Fischbach said. None of the boys were wearing seat belts, according to Avon police.

Cachat was sitting in the rear seat and the 15-year-old boy was a front-seat passenger, according to Avon police Sgt. Kevin Collins.

Avon assistant fire Chief Tim Goly said firefighters were able to get the three boys from the car without any problems.

''There was no extraction needed,'' he said. ''We were able to get them out.''

Fischbach said he did not know how fast the car was traveling at the time of the accident.

''Speed is going to be looked at,'' he said. ''For whatever reason, the driver lost control of the car.''

Police have talked to witnesses who were walking or driving in the area at the time of the crash.

Authorities had to reduce traffic near the crash to one lane for more than three hours yesterday.

Two-lane traffic resumed at about 7 p.m. yesterday. A tow truck pulled the Grand Am from the tree at about 6:30 last night.

Buller said the school administration has been working with the police department to make sure the school can provide accurate information to the students about their classmates.

''We're just trying to keep accurate communication with the kids,'' she said.

Students at the high school for the Avon-Firelands basketball game last night said the three boys played indoor soccer and liked to snowboard.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 1-8-06, by Jeff Mohrman

``2 teens still critical after car crash

AVON -- Two Avon High School students remained in critical condition Saturday after their car hit a tree on Detroit Road on Friday [1-6-06].

Daniel Skinner, 15, and Joseph Cachat 16, were both in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland on Saturday, a nursing supervisor said.

Daniel Kelley, 16, the car driver, was treated and released, a supervisor said. According to police, the boys had just left the high school in a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am and were heading east on Detroit.

Police said the car drove off the right side of the road, over-corrected to the left and then over-corrected again, going off the right side and hitting a tree head-on. No citations had been filed as of Saturday.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 1-8-06, by SCOT ALLYN, Morning Journal Writer

``Two Avon teens remain in critical condition

Cause of crash still under investigation

AVON -- Two boys hurt in an after-school car crash Friday [1-6-06] on Detroit Road remained in critical condition last night at Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center, according to a nursing supervisor. The boys, Daniel Skinner and Joseph Cachat, both 15, were passengers in a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am driven by Daniel Kelley, 16.

All three were sophomores at Avon High School, according to reports. Kelley was treated in the emergency room at MetroHealth and released Friday, according to a nursing supervisor.

About 3:15 p.m. Friday, Kelley was driving eastbound on Detroit Road when he swerved right, then left, then right again, according to reports. The car went off Detroit Road just east of the Church of God and struck a tree, according to Avon Police Sgt. Dan Fischbach. Police said none of the boys were wearing seat belts.

Avon Police Sgt. Robert Olds said the accident was still being investigated last night.

''The preliminary investigation suggests the accident was caused by the failure to control the vehicle,'' Olds said. ''Excessive speed was not a likely cause, and the streets were not slippery. Until we've investigated thoroughly, I don't want to speculate on the charges we might be filing. I don't know if the boy had any prior record. We will be obtaining records from the hospital to learn if any alcohol or drugs were involved. At this time that does not appear to be the case.''

Olds said that stretch of Detroit Road is busy, but safe.

''I can't think of too many accidents we've had down there,'' he said. ''It's a busy time of day because schools are letting out. Detroit Road has significant traffic between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.''

Olds said he hoped to wrap up the investigation in a couple of days.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle Telegram, 1-10-06, by Chris Powell

``Avon students still hospitalized

AVON -- High school students attended classes Monday with heavy hearts as two classmates injured Friday [1-6-06] in a car crash after school lay in intensive care at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Daniel Skinner, 15, and Joseph Cachat, 16, both Avon sophomores, were injured around 3:15 p.m. Friday after Daniel Kelly, 16, with whom they were riding home with, lost control of his Pontiac Grand Am on Detroit Road and struck a tree. Kelly, also a sophomore, has not been charged by Avon police; but Sgt. Dan Fischbach said speed and inexperience played a role in the accident, which is still being investigated.

"We haven't yet completed our report," he said. "But we suspect his age and inexperienced driving record paired with speed and failure to control led to the crash."

Linda Kelly, the mother of Daniel Kelly, said her son, who was treated and released on Saturday, is having difficulties dealing with the accident and that his close friends are still hospitalized ...

Kelly, a mother of three, said Cachat and her son lived next door to each other growing up and remained friends even after a family move.

"We've been friends with their parents for years," she said. "It's just really hard on me to see my son OK and their sons still in the hospital because of a crash where my son was driving."

Avon Principal Chad Coffman said he was surprised at how the student body was handling the accident, which occurred less than two blocks from the school, which is also on Detroit Road ...

Freshman Leigha Perry, 15, said she was saddened when she heard the news but is hopeful.

"They're a really funny group of guys," she said. "It's just sad what happened; we all hope they're going to be OK, because they were really close."

School teachers and the Kelly family are trying to use the crash to remind everyone to buckle up each and every time they ride in a car, something the boys were not doing at the time of the accident ...''

Contact Chris Powell at cpowell@chroniclet.com.

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-11-06, By Julie A. Short

``Teen remains critical, one upgraded after crash

AVON -- Police are still investigating the Jan. 6 [2006] crash involving three students from Avon High School.

According to police reports, the boys had just left the high school around 3:15 pm and were heading eastbound on Detroit Road between Hayes Street and French Creek Road. Daniel Kelley, 16, was driving a brown 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. Passengers in the car included Daniel Skinner, 15, and Joseph Cachat, 15.

The vehicle drove off the right side of the road, over corrected to the left and then over corrected again going off the right (south) side of the road striking a tree head-on near the Avon Church of God. None of the occupants was wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, and both front airbags deployed.

Kelley was initially transported to Community Health Partners and flown via Life Flight to Metro Health Medical Center. He was released over the weekend from the hospital.

Skinner, seated in the front seat, was initially transported to Avon Emergency Medical Center and flown via Life Flight to Metro Health Medical Center. He is listed in fair condition.

Cachat, the rear seat passenger, was also transported to Avon's Emergency Medical Center and then flown to Metro Health Medical Center. He is listed in critical condition.

"At this time, we believe this to be a traffic accident involving an inexperienced driver," Avon Police Sgt. Dan Fischbach said. "The accident is still under investigation. We are still waiting for the alcohol and drug test results, but do not believe they played a role. Speed is also being looked at as a factor, but initially, it doesn't appear to be a factor."

Avon High School principal Dr. Chad Coffman said that guidance counselors are available at the school should any student need assistance in dealing with the news of the accident. He also confirmed that Kelley was in attendance on Monday [1-9-06] ...

Kelley and Stringer played on the varsity soccer team at the high school. Cachat's mother, Holly, is an aide at Avon Village School.''

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NEWS ARTICLE from The Press, 1-3-07, By Rebecca Turman

[Joey Cachat recovers]

AVON -- A year ago, on Jan. 6, 2006, the Cachat family, of Avon, had its world turned upside down when 16 year-old Joe, or "Joey" Cachat and his two friends Dan Kelley and Dan Skinner got in a car accident while driving home from Avon High School. None of the boys had seatbelts on, and Joe, on impact, flew up from the back seat and struck his head on the front window. Joe, was life-flighted to the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, where neurosurgeon Dr. Meg Verrees took over and had to remove a portion of his skull to accommodate the swelling of his brain.

"I saw him the evening when he came in 30 minutes after the accident," Dr. Verrees said. "He wasn't awake; he was intubated, wasn't nodding his head, and didn't seem aware of voices or touch. He was not there at all consciously."

The accident took an unexpected toll on the entire family, John and Holly Cachat, Joe's parents, said. Holly said she realized the severity of the injury when she asked how bad it was on a scale from 1-10 and someone responded with "11."

Everyone has heard the saying, "what a difference a year makes," but the Cachat family can vouch for that saying in every way -- they've lived it. Holly explained that when the accident happened, the Cachats' lives went off track.

"Now my life is back on track," she said. "He's doing really well, which is nice and kind of surprising," Dr. Verrees said. "He was really exceptional (in recovery) and quite lucky. Physically, he moves well, his movements are strong, his speech is perfect, and he answers quickly -- no lag. He doesn't need you to repeat things.

"If your brain gets bruised, like anything else, it swells," Verrees said. "He needed to tell us how he was going to do." According to Verrees, recovery from brain injury depends on variables. "Many other patients with similar injuries don't wake up at all, let alone recover," Verrees said. "For some, just being able to feed themselves is an accomplishment. It could have happened to five other people Joey's age. One could have recovered 25 percent, one 75, and Joey, 100...you never know."

As far as his recuperation goes, Verrees said, "He was at full recovery when I saw him in October (2006). He's resuming his life as it was a year ago. He's really stepping into his life in January 2007 as it was left off in January 2006. Someone like Joey can remind you that there is hope for a future and a recovery."

Joe agreed with Dr. Verrees' assessment about his recovery. "The doctors said that I was a miracle," Joe said. "I'm back to school, back to hanging out with my friends, back to being myself again."

Though most things are back to normal with Joe, he said he did have to give up one thing because of the accident -- snowboarding. However, he was quick to say that it was only for this season. Next year he can snowboard, as long as he wears a helmet, Verrees told him.

Though he is done with physical therapy, Joe still sees a personal trainer one to two times a week at EMH in Avon. "I love working out," the 6'4, 140-pound teen said.

Though the accident was very traumatizing for all of the Cachats, Joe still owns his scars. "I have 30 screws in my head," Joe said, rubbing his head.

He laughs to himself and explains how he recently asked someone at the probate court to "wand" his head, and it set off the detector ...

Since the accident, school has become a bit more challenging for Joe, who used to be a 4.0 student. Before the accident, he said he could just cram for exams the night before, but now he can't take that last-minute studying approach because he said the information isn't as easy to digest anymore.

To constantly challenge and improve his memory, Joe said he has memory cognitive therapy every Friday. "It's basically that I know the stuff, but I doubt myself," Joe said ...

"I want to emphasize again that the school support was phenomenal," John said. Because he took summer school last year, Joe will be able to graduate on time in 2008, he said. Both parents agreed that Joe's math teacher, Kathryn MacKenna has been exceptionally helpful to Joe. "She said, before the accident, that he could have taught her geometry class," Holly said. At first, when Joe went back to school, the Cachats felt that MacKenna pushed him too hard. "She said, `I'm pushing him hard because I know he can do it,'" John said ...

On a positive note, John said certain things about Joe's demeanor have changed for the better. "I think he has a better outlook on life," John said. "He's more appreciative of things. He thinks more about spending time with people instead of hanging out in the room.

"The best out of all of this is that Joey's had an upbeat, positive attitude. He hasn't been depressed. Because I can help him with algebra and all the other stuff, but that (depression) is tough." "It was out of nowhere," Joe said of the accident. "It was like a slap in the face. I didn't see it coming."

Though Dr. Verrees said that Joe was at full recovery, as a mother, Holly said she notices little things here and there. "I do notice there is a subtle difference -- sometimes he's not as quick as he used to be making decisions, school is more of a struggle," Holly said. "If he forgets something, you don't know if it was because of the accident or if it's just that he's a teenager. Being so close with Joe, there are things that I notice, but can I pinpoint them? No."

When the Cachats were asked what could be attributed to Joe's successful recovery, John quickly replied with, "If you asked all the people in intensive care, they would say his mother." "I did what any other mom would do," Holly said. "I was there 24/7 with him. Our family is really close and the support of the community was wonderful." "She just doesn't want to take credit for it," John said.

Holly said she was determined to get Joe back to the way he used to be, functioning on his own. There are several incidents that she remembers during his time in the hospital, from reading him "The Giver" and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" while he was in a drug-induced coma, to trying to motivate him to move in his wheelchair. "I remember him being in a wheelchair and he didn't want to do anything," Holly said. "He just wanted to lie in bed. He didn't want to push himself."

Holly didn't let Joe sit in self-defeat. She made him push himself in the wheelchair, she said. Joe couldn't recollect the wheelchair incident with his mom, but he remembered her taking him to a clay pottery class that he didn't want to go to, he said.

Holly confessed that after she had dropped him off at the class, she turned the corner and started to cry, wondering if her son would ever be back to normal. The clay pottery class wasn't Joe's first memory after the accident, though. "I remember not knowing where I was, thinking that half of my brain was gone," Joe said. "I remember asking, `Do my friends have the same time zone as us?' because I didn't know where I was."

Now that Joe is driving (he got his license in October 2006), he said he's "a lot more cautious." "The first thing I do when I get into the truck is put on my seatbelt," Joe said. "Plus, if I don't, my truck will sound an alarm." "I've been very sensitized, too," John added. "You didn't think the people in the back needed to buckle up...they do."

When asked if they are paranoid about Joe driving, Holly and John replied with a resounding "Yes!" "It's the regular paranoid stuff (that most parents have) plus the accident," Joe said of his parents.

Soon after Joe got his license, Holly said one day, he left to drive somewhere, and she heard sirens down the street. Immediately, she asked her older son to call Joe and make sure he was ok because she had a bad feeling. "Now I'm thinking, `Okay, what's 2007 going to bring?'" she said.

The Cachats said the accident made them more worried about their older son, Jonathan, driving, more so than Joey. "We're not worried so much about him as much as his brother," Holly said. "But sometimes when he drives, he (Joe) hesitates. Sometimes you can be over- cautious..."

"We did get him a truck with 80 airbags, though," John added with a chuckle. When asked how they feel about the Substitute House Bill 343, that would only permit 16-year-old drivers to have one other driver besides themselves in the car, Holly said, "It's a great idea," adding that she only lets Joe drive with one other person.

In 2007, things appear to be back to normal for the Cachats, and Joe is able to plan ahead his life. He's already thinking about college. He said he's looking at becoming a lawyer or anesthesiologist, and wants to attend Ohio State University, where his sister Heather is a sophomore.

"People tell me that I have a little more positive outlook on life," Holly said. "They also say, `Your family handled it so gracefully.'" Though Holly said she never knows how to respond to that comment, she said, "We're very lucky, very blessed." ...

"When I went back to work in September (at Avon Village), it was the first day in 2006 that I finally felt like everyone was where they should be (Jonathan, Heather, Joe and Cora all back at school)," Holly said.

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