2 children killed in Butler County: What we know about the crash, ATV incidents

A 6-year-old child was hit and killed Tuesday evening while crossing Pleasant Avenue in Hamilton's Lindenwald neighborhood NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
A 6-year-old child was hit and killed Tuesday evening while crossing Pleasant Avenue in Hamilton's Lindenwald neighborhood NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Two Butler County children, both under the age of 11, were killed Tuesday in separate incidents.

Nolen Scott Jones, 6, of Hamilton, died of head injuries sustained when he was struck by a car while crossing Pleasant Avenue in Hamilton, and Reagan Vanoss, 10, of Fairfield, was killed when the four-wheel ATV she was riding flipped and landed on her, according to police.

An 11-year-old boy with Jones, Logan Watson, was injured and transported by medical helicopter to a Cincinnati hospital with incapacitating injuries. Both boys have the same Fairview Avenue address in Hamilton.

The Hamilton crash happened about 6:45 p.m. at Pleasant and Symmes as the children crossed the road and were struck, according to Sgt. Richard Burkhardt.

“Hamilton City Schools is saddened to learn that one of our Linden Elementary students was struck by a car last night and passed away. The Hamilton and Lindenwald Community is wishing the family strength and comfort in the days and weeks ahead,” Hamilton schools said in a statement.

The driver of the vehicle, Elizabeth Ann Marie Mehl, 30, of Corwin Avenue in Hamilton, was charged with OVI, felony drug abuse and child endangering because there were two children, ages 10 and 3, in the car at the time of the crash, according to the Hamilton Police report.

The cause of the crash and any charges related to the crash remain under investigation. Mehl was arraigned in Hamilton Municipal Court Wednesday morning, and bond was set at $75,000.

A second woman who was at the scene of the crash, Hortencia Garcia, 26, was charged with tampering with evidence.

Mehl was sitting on the sidewalk when officers arrived at the scene and appeared to be under the influence of a narcotic, according to the police report. A baggie containing pills was found in the crack of the seat where one of the children had been sitting, according to the police report.

At the police station, Mehl told officers the pills were Percocet. After failing a field sobriety test, Mehl was arrested.

Garcia, 26, of Cincinnati, was charged after she allegedly retrieved a “wad” of cash from the car and stuffed it into her bra, according to the police report. Garcia stopped at the scene because she said she knew Mehl.

Reagan, who was killed in the Fairfield incident was a fifth-grader at Fairfield West Elementary School.

Mitch Rhodus, a family spokesman, said Reagan and her father were on the same ATV dragging an infield of a diamond at Mitch and Lois Rhodus Field of Dreams. Brad Vanoss and his daughter had completed the work and were driving back to store the ATV in a garage, Rhodus said.

Police are uncertain why the vehicle flipped, they said.

Emergency personnel attempted life-saving measures, however, the injuries were too severe and she died Tuesday night at Mercy Hospital, police said. She died from head trauma and her death was ruled an accident, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Brad Vanoss sustained non-life-threatening injuries and is being treated at an area hospital, according to police.

Rhodus said Brad and Angela Vanoss have three daughters and one son and he described them as “the American family” because of their deep involvement in the Fairfield community. He is a board member of the Fairfield Civitan Club and past president and will be the next president of the Fairfield Rotary Club.

Rhodus described Reagan as “young and so full of life. Someone who loved everyone she came in contact with.”

Christi Toulouse, who served as Fairfield West librarian until she took a position in the Fairfield High School office, said she and Reagan “had a special bond” and she served as her “school mom.”

She was “in shock, in disbelief and heart-broken” when she heard about the accident.

The community has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family offset some upcoming expenses. Rhodus said $18,000 was donated in the first 10 hours.

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