Kent State student dies after vehicle hits his scooter and flees


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Oct 16, 2023

Kent State student dies after vehicle hits his scooter and flees

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ravenna Post is asking for the public's help

The Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ravenna Post is asking for the public's help identifying the driver of a vehicle that struck an electric scooter, killing a Kent State University student on Summit Road in Franklin Township on Monday night.

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Colin Vinh Pho, 22, of Kent, was eastbound at state Route 261 when an unidentified vehicle struck the scooter he was riding from behind at about 9:30 p.m., then fled the scene, according to a highway patrol news release issued Tuesday.

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Emergency workers took Vinh Pho to University Hospitals Portage Medical Center in Ravenna with life-threatening injuries, the release said. He was then flown by helicopter to UH Cleveland Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

The highway patrol said the vehicle that struck the scooter may be a white, silver or light-colored 2006-10 model Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum or Chrysler 300 that is missing its driver's side mirror. The vehicle may also have damage to its left front area and its windshield.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Ray Santiago said that as of Wednesday afternoon, there were no updates to the investigation and no known witnesses to the crash.

"We are still looking for the vehicles that we have listed as being possibly involved," he said. "I can tell you we did have some evidence that was left at the scene. That led us to narrow it down to those specific vehicles. And we are still, exploring other leads that we have generated at this time."

The university issued a statement saying Vinh Pho was an Ashtabula native who was a junior majoring in computer science with a concentration in game programming. He had just received an associate degree in May and was registered for fall classes to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Fall classes start Thursday at Kent State.

University spokesman Eric Mansfield expressed condolences.

"The Kent State community sends its thoughts and prayers to Colin's family, friends and all who knew and loved him," Mansfield said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ravenna Post of the patrol at 330-297-1441.

More:Scooters, bikes now available to rent on Kent State campus

Santiago said Vinh Pho owned the scooter he was riding.

KSU announced in March that it has partnered with Spin to provide 100 scooters and 100 bicycles as rentals, including for non-students. Spin spokeswoman Sara Dodrill confirmed in an email Thursday that based on photos taken at the crash scene and Spin's records, the scooter did not belong to the company.

Kent Police Lt. Mike Lewis said police have seen an uptick in the number of scooters since the rentals began.

"I think there's always a concern for everyone's safety, especially when they're operating a vehicle that doesn't have the full protection of a car," said Lewis. "So obviously, there's some concern for anybody who is on anything from a skateboard to a bicycle to a motorcycle, that they don't have as much protection as a full-size vehicle would have if they were involved in any type of crash. But fortunately, we have not seen a high number of accidents involving [scooters]."

Lewis added he does not recall any serious-injury scooter crashes in the area.

"[Monday's crash] is certainly the most serious incident that we have seen involving the scooters," he said.

Chief Deputy Ralph Spidalieri of the Portage County Sheriff's Office, which polices Franklin Township, said Wednesday that the regulation of scooters on public roads is pretty much the same as it is for bicycles.

Santiago said local communities can enact their own regulations, including prohibiting scooters.

Scooters are less common in the more rural areas the sheriff's office polices than they are around Kent, but there can still be concerns, Spidalieri said.

"Whether it be a bicycle or scooter, there's always going to be a risk with a vehicle traveling slower than traffic and is going to have to be passed," he said.

The road remained closed for more than two hours while the scene was investigated and cleared. The Kent Fire Department, Portage County Sheriff's Office, and Kent and Kent State University police departments assisted at the scene.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at [email protected].

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