A one-vehicle crash south of Columbus has claimed the life of a recent Columbus North High School graduate.
Taylor Morgan Compton, 18, of 2942 Tulip Drive, died instantly of massive trauma to the head and body as a result of the 11:57 a.m. Tuesday accident, Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher said.
Evidence indicates that, while Compton was eastbound on Deaver Road, the right wheels of her car went off the pavement about a quarter-mile east of County Road 150W, investigating officer Brian Kushman of the Columbus Police Department said.
As Compton attempted to regain control of the green Oldsmobile Intrigue, she apparently overcorrected and the car slid sidewise into the electrical utility pole, Kushman said.
The impact caused the Intrigue to turn on its side and curl around the wooden pole, flattening the top of the vehicle before it came to rest in a soybean field, the officer said.
The accident occurred south of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds in the vicinity of Bethel Village — between State Road 11 and Interstate 65.
Another motorist on Deaver Road immediately called 911 and stayed with the victim until emergency workers arrived three minutes after the crash was reported, Kushman said.
Compton attended the International School of Columbus from eighth grade until it closed in October 2013, at which point she transferred to Columbus North. She made the honor roll during her first quarter at her new school.
Jonah Sims, the International School’s former head of school, remembered Compton as a friendly, artistic and sweet young woman.
“She was an awesome student, a great person,” he said, still shaken from hearing the news.
There were fewer than 10 students in her International School class, and Sims said they had all grown close.
In October, Compton posted on Facebook: “I’m thankful for the four years and two months that I got to spend at ISC. I wouldn’t be the same person today if it weren’t for the experiences I had there. I would have just been another face in the crowd.”
Many of the students transferred to North together when the International School closed. Sims is friends with many of them on Facebook.
He said he recently saw Compton make posts about her artwork and her graduation. She wrote about passing her driver’s license exam in November and then about her new car in January.
“She was a top-of-the-class student,” Sims said. “She had everything in front of her.”
Search for a cause
It took emergency workers more than an hour to remove Compton from the wreckage, Fisher said.
Police kept Deaver Road closed to traffic between County Road 50W and County Road 150W for almost three hours until crews from Duke Energy were able to complete repairs to the utility pole and lines.
While it’s not known what caused the right tires to veer off the pavement, the woman’s cellphone was found in her purse, indicating it was not in use at the time of the crash, Kushman said.
Fisher said excessive speed could have been a factor. However, an accident reconstructionist from the Indiana State Police was called in to determine an exact cause of the accident, which remains under investigation.
Fisher said Compton was on her way to take a college-level exam at the time she was killed. Both textbooks and exam-preparation forms were found inside her car, the coroner said.
The 911 dispatcher who took the initial call was Compton’s uncle, Tony McClain, Bartholomew County Emergency 911 Operations Director Ed Reuter said.
When McClain was asked to run down the license plate on the car, he discovered the vehicle belonged to his brother, Reuter said.
Deputy 911 director Julie Pierce immediately took over McClain’s dispatcher duties while Reuter took McClain to notify other relatives of their loss, Reuter said.
Compton is the third young person from the Columbus area to die from a motor vehicle accident in as many months — a fact Fisher called “extremely disturbing.”
On May 8, Southside Elementary School student Cameron Briot died when the 11-year-old’s all-terrain vehicle collided with a motorcycle on a rural road just east of Columbus.
Four days later, Columbus North junior Delanie Scroghan, 17, was killed in an accident on a country road east of Grandview Lake.