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Driver dies after high-speed crash into landmark Youngstown church

Published: Mon, June 6, 2011 @ 12:02 a.m.

By Peter H. Milliken



A speeding car being chased by police struck a retaining wall, went airborne for 105 feet and crashed into a Wick Avenue landmark church early Sunday, killing its young female driver.

A police report put the speed of the reportedly stolen car at more than 50 mph, but Rye Dalton, treasurer of First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave., which the car hit, said police at the scene estimated the speed of the car at 80 to 100 mph.

The Mahoning County Coroner’s Office identified the driver, who was extricated from the wreckage by the fire department, as Satavia Douglass, 19, of Southern Boulevard, but no official cause of death or ruling was available Sunday evening. Dr. Joseph Ohr, forensic pathologist and deputy coroner, was to perform the autopsy today.

Police responded shortly after midnight Saturday to a reported break-in and car theft at Jordan’s Auto Sales, a used car dealership at 839 Wick Ave.

Police saw the black, four-door 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer leave the used car lot, jump a curb, and speed southbound on Wick Avenue, without its headlights or taillights shining, according to Patrolman Arthur Carter, who wrote the police report.

With city police in pursuit, the driver, estimated by police to be between 18 and 20 years old, lost control near Lincoln Avenue and swerved several times before crashing into the church two blocks south, directly beneath its clock and steeple.

The car was embedded into the north side of the tower, and the impact broke a south-facing tower window. National Fire Repair boarded up the north window area, where the impact occurred, and the south window early Sunday morning.

Dalton said the damage is clearly more than $50,000, and he said Murphy Contracting Co. of Youngstown would survey the damage today.

“It’s going to be big because there’s a lot of interior damage,” Dalton said. Damaged inside were woodwork and drywall, wiring and heating equipment, he said. The church is insured for the damage, he added.

The Rev. Nick Mager, church pastor, said he wanted to have the clock tower and steeple, which overlook the city’s downtown, checked for structural damage the crash may have caused.

The Rev. Mr. Mager reported the crash to parishioners during the 11 a.m. Sunday worship service.

After the service, Mr. Mager said his church intends to contact the victim’s family and offer its sympathy and any assistance it can provide to that family in the aftermath of this tragedy.

“We continue to keep them in our thoughts and in our prayers. We’re in pain for them and pain with them,” he said of members of the victim’s family.

When police returned to the car dealership, they found a garage door open, and it appeared that the stolen car’s keys had been taken from inside the business before the car was stolen from the lot, the police report said.


1ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 5 years ago

The only tragedy is that an historic building was damaged.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

The blame in the hood for the events has been shifted to the police for giving chase . The car manufacturer should also be investigated . The steering lock mechanism may not have fully released when the steering column was peeled during the theft thus locking up when the car was driven .


1 Complaint Number: 10155850 Incident Date: April 19, 2006 Date Added to File: April 21, 2006
Description of the Complaint:
I own a 2002 mitsubishi lancer. I purchased from carmax in 2005 and was assured that it was free of problems. Additional research showed that the car had been well cared for and had never been in an accident. While sitting in traffic on the interstate in late february 2006 the steering column inexplicably collapsed into my lap. The car was nearly impossible to control, and I was fortunate that I was in gridlock, otherwise I would have been in an accident. So, since my Warranty with carmax had lapsed, I took the car to my mechanic (who is extremely competent and reputable). He looked at the it and had no explanation for what caused the failure. The steel brackets holding the column in place had been ripped through, and the only thing capable of doing this was a head on collision. I had him repair the column, as I needed my car. He fixed all the necessary problems and did not find anything else that needed repairing. Then in april 2006, I was sitting at a stop light and again the column collapsed. It was in a worse state than during the previous failure. I took it to my mechanic to be re-examined. He was able to find nothing related to his previous repair that could have caused this second failure. The steel rivets and bolts supporting the column (which had not been touched during the previous repair and were therefore undisturbed), had completely ripped away. I had the car towed to a mitsubishi dealer and their service team could come up with no explanation for what could have caused this failure other than a potentially defective column. I was assured that this was not due to normal wear and tear. I contacted mitsubishi regarding what could be done, but they claimed to be unable to help me as the car was beyond the manufacturer's warranty, due to the number of miles on it I am only fortunate in that these failures did not occur while I was in motion, or the sudden loss of control would have certainly caused an accident in which I could have been severely injured

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3seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years ago

Justice was served on this one...excellent, Stan, excellent. Her peeps and kin will try to find fault even though their thug daughter stole the car.

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4piak(508 comments)posted 5 years ago

The blame in the hood for the events has been shifted to the police for giving chase .

This is a common response to the police doing their job. It is sad someone died over this, but how do you get around the idea that the car was stolen?

It is what it is: A stolen car, a police pursuit resulting in a fatality. It is also fortunate the church was not full of people coming from or going to a service. Then that fatality would have changed into carnage.

One wonders what was behind this? Only our Lord knows.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

"After the service, Mr. Mager said his church intends to contact the victim’s family and offer its sympathy and any assistance it can provide to that family in the aftermath of this tragedy."

The chuch is is very noble in making funds available for the family of the victim . Now if our city leaders would do more to generate jobs for the young to keep them off the streets . In far too many cases theft is the only option to gain an automobile in the hood .

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6Bigben(1996 comments)posted 5 years ago

Thank God no one else was killed. It was horrible but it could have been worse.

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7republicanRick(1716 comments)posted 5 years ago

How many kids did she have?

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