STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — A small memorial has been created by the friends and classmates of three graduates of Strongsville High School, involved in a one car crash early Sunday, that left two of them dead and a third hospitalized in critical condition.
Killed were 19-year-old Davion Flanagan, a 2022 graduate of Strongsville High, and 20-year-old Dominic Russo. Mackenzie Shirilla, a 17-year-old 2022 graduate, was pulled from the wreckage of the car and flown by Life Fight to MetroHealth Medical Center.
Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender was visibly shaken as he told FOX 8, “Our hearts grieve right now, I think that anybody that has children can really commiserate with this loss, our heart breaks for them.”
Police say a passerby noticed a smashed up car up against a building in the Progress Drive Business Park around 6:15 a.m. Sunday. Investigators say it appears the car failed to stop at the end of Progress Drive, traveled across the lawn of the business, hit a sign and then crashed into the building.
Police say it appears Shirilla was driving and speed was one of the factors.
“I think it played a role, but it’s still difficult to say how fast the car was going, but with the kind of damage that was there, the way the vehicle struck the sign and the building, all plays a role in it,” said Chief Fender.
Investigators say the accident may have actually happened hours earlier, but went undetected because the business park is in an area of Strongsville that is not heavily traveled. Police say it’s too early to say if the two victims who died might have been saved if the crash scene had been discovered earlier.
Davion Flanagan had been a gritty and highly respected member of the Strongsville Mustangs football team.
When Head Football Coach Lou Cirino learned that the 19-year-old had been killed in the crash, his reaction was, “it’s one of those things where your heart goes into your stomach.”
Coach Cirino says he had high hopes for young Flanagan after he made it through four tough years of Mustang football, and received his diploma in May.
“We battled for that young man to get him to graduate and help him out, to pass all of his classes and do a lot of stuff, because his plan was to be a barber,” he said.
Cirino is also a teacher, and Shirilla was one of his students this year.
“We had a great relationship. I know she’s in a fight for her life right now,” he said.
Cirino and Fender both believe that what happened early Sunday morning is a teaching moment for teenagers and their families.
“Hey man, when you’re in your car, if every other teenager is going fast, be different, be uncommon, be the one that drives slow because cars are dangerous, you’ve got to slow down,” said Cirino.
Fender added, “I think that the message I would have is that life is brief and we just need to be diligent in the way that we raise our kids, enjoy them while we have them.”
Shirilla is listed in critical condition at MetroHealth Medical Center. Investigators are now waiting for the results of testing, that would show if drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash.