COLD SPRING, Ky. -- A couple in their 20s and their two young children - ages 21 months and 6 months - were among five people killed Tuesday afternoon in a two-car crash on Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring police announced Wednesday.
Police identified the victims as:
- Brandon Lawson, 23, and Taylor Koch, 22. Koch was a 2014 graduate of Bishop Brossart High School;
- Their children, Brendan Lawson, 21 months, and Isabella Lawson, 6 months;
- Sharon Groves, 74.
Groves was in a car driven by her husband, Russell Groves, 83, who was the only survivor. He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with severe injuries. His condition was listed as critical and stable as of Wednesday.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to provide funerals for Lawson, Koch and their children.
Cold Spring Police Chief Steve Collinsworth said they are trying to determine why Lawson's silver Toyota Corolla apparently went out of control and drifted over the center median while traveling northbound on Alexandria Pike. Lawson's car then struck a gold Ford Taurus driven by Groves going in the opposite direction.
The crash happened about 4:30 p.m. just north of Low Gap Road. The collision appeared to be "unavoidable," Collinsworth said.
"No idea why they crossed over," Collinsworth said. “The [investigators] will look at the vehicle. Looking at everything involved in the collision. See if there’s something mechanical in the vehicle. Talk to witnesses to see if we can find out why they crossed over.”
Collinsworth said he doesn't think the 55 mph speed limit is too high for the four-lane highway.
“I think if you reduce the speed limit, without the median in that situation, you’re still going to have a head-on collision," the chief said. "Lowering it by 10 miles per hour, I don’t think the results would be much different.”
Medians have advantages and disadvantage in protecting drivers, Collinsworth noted.
"Once a car crosses over, there’s no way to recover from it,” the chief said.
When WCPO asked if a barrier could be installed on the median, Collinsworth said that's up to the state transportation department.
Both children were properly fastened in child safety seats and adults were wearing seat belts, Collinsworth said.
A third car, a Ford Focus, slightly struck the front fender of Lawson's Corolla after the crash, police said. The driver was southbound on Alexandria. No one in the third car appeared to be injured.
Police ask witnesses to contact them at (859) 441-6289.
One of the first responders said they were devastated by the death toll.
"It happens very quickly," Cold Spring Sgt. Andy Hyett said. "It’s tragic. I have a child of my own and every officer and firefighter that went there also has that … It’s one of the hardest things we have to do.
"You go home and hug your family that much harder and thank God it wasn’t you this time," Hyett said.
Collinsworth said it might help - and provide some closure - if they can determine what caused the crash.
“When you can put your finger on it, that makes it a little easier. In this case we may never be able to do that. It makes it harder,” he said.