WAYNE TWP., Ohio -- Officials aren't saying what sparked a police chase that ended in a double-fatal crash Sunday evening. But residents along the treacherous stretch of state highway say speeders and hill-hoppers make the area very dangerous.
It was the sixth double-fatal accident in the area just this year -- mostly due to speed.
Investigators say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash that killed two backseat passengers, Jason Wright of Martinsville and Charles McMullen of Williamsburg, on State Route 727 about 7:15 p.m. Sunday.
And it has residents along the hilly, curvy stretch of highway calling for changes.
Mike Mayer gazed at Route 727 in front of his home Monday and recalled the accidents he's seen in 22 years.
"The speed limit used to be 55. It's now 45. That's doable if you're doing 45," said Mayer. "Other than that, if you're going over the speed limit and you're not familiar with the road, you're probably going to have happen what happened."
"I've witnessed no less than seven wrecks here where they have been a couple of fatalities," said Jeff Stabler, an eight-year resident. "This is a constant thing."
"There was a park ranger in pursuit and they were trying to outrun him and didn't make it. That's the bottom line," Mayer said. "They got into this stretch of road and it took another toll."
The pursuit began at Stonelick Park and went south on Route 727, officials said.
The 2005 Saturn L300 went airborne near Shiloh Road, bottomed out on the pavement and went out of control. It hit a tree on the left side of the road and veered off to high brush on the right.
Wright was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car. Police say McMullen was wearing a seat belt.
Driver Paul Chisenhall, 36, of Goshen, and Christina Singleton, 31, of Newport, Kentucky, remain hospitalized.
"It's a hilly, curvy, winding road," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Wayne Price, "so if you're going to start traveling above the 45-mph speed limit, then absolutely speed becomes an issue just by the layout of the road itself."
Stabler compared it to roller coaster.
"I was getting the newspaper this morning probably at 8 o'clock and a woman come over the hill -- jumped the hill -- with her kids not wearing their seat belts like they were at a Kings Island ride," he said.
Stabler said the hill used to be higher until it was cut down about 10 feet several years ago.
"I came out here about eight years ago and they had just redone this road and it's still not enough. The neighbors are constantly complaining that there's too many injuries, too many wrecks here," Stabler said.
Police and residents agree the area is safe without speeding and without alcohol.
"It's just a bad situation that was compounded through drinking and bad judgment," Mayer said.
"Why would you want to outrun a park ranger? My goodness. Those guys are gentle."
When WCPO contacted the highway patrol for information on what caused the chase, the patrol referred us to the Department of Natural Resources. ODNR referred us back to the patrol, which is doing the investigation.
We will keep pursuing it for you.