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Woman dies in crash, man arrested

ROGUE RIVER — A Grants Pass man driving down Wards Creek Road on a rainy night in an attempt to stop his pregnant girlfriend from leaving after a fight crashed head-on into another car, killing that driver.

Scarlet Delight O'Hara Ackroyd, 22, died of massive internal injuries after the Monday night crash, said Jackson County Sheriff's Department Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan. Her 21/2-year-old son, Andrew, was buckled securely in a child safety seat and escaped with just bruises.

Jacob Matthew Ries, 21, of the 1000 block of Savage Street, Grants Pass, and his girlfriend, Bobbi Ann Krouse, 20, of Medford, had a fight at a house up Wards Creek. She left, with him in pursuit in his 1994 Toyota 4Runner. He passed her car and tried to get her to stop, but she went around him, so he continued after her and was passing again when the crash with Ackroyd happened, Fagan said.

Ries turned himself into sheriff's detectives Tuesday evening. He was charged with criminally negligent homicide and was released from the Jackson County Jail after posting bail.

Residents in the 700 block of Wards Creek Road heard the crash and called 9-1-1 shortly after 8 p.m. Monday. Rogue River Fire District No. 1 worked at length to free Ackroyd from her crushed 1994 Toyota Camry and rushed her to Providence Medford Medical Center, where medical teams tried for about an hour to save her, Fagan said.

A distraught Ries was taken to Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass by a private vehicle, Fagan said. Authorities said he was treated and released.

Ries cooperated with investigators and provided blood and urine samples for drug and alcohol testing. Preliminary results were negative and substance use isn't suspected as a factor in the crash, Fagan said.

"It's just a tragic loss of a bright, loving, caring lady," said John Kuenstler, Ackroyd's stepfather. "She's been a daughter to me."

He said Ackroyd had visited a friend in the town of Rogue River Monday evening and was heading to the Burbridge Drive home just off Wards Creek Road where she lived with him, her mother, Echo Kuenstler, and her two children.

Her son Andrew was in the car with her and suffered only bruises from the straps on his car seat and a bump on his head, Kuenstler said. Her daughter, Jessica, was born by Caesarian section Nov. 13, the day after Ackroyd's 22nd birthday and two weeks before her originally scheduled birth — today.

"If she hadn't come early, she would have died in that car, too," Kuenstler said.

He said that the children's father, Daniel German, died in a suicide about five weeks ago in Central Point.

"It's just been a tragic time," Kuenstler said.

Kuenstler said that he and Echo plan to raise the two children in the only home they have ever known.

They have tentatively set Ackroyd's memorial service for Monday to give her brother, a Marine serving at Camp Fallujah, time to return to the U.S. from Iraq on emergency leave.

Investigators continue to examine the circumstances of the crash. Work to determine the speeds of the involved vehicles is ongoing, but rainy conditions at the time of the crash left little evidence on the roadway, Fagan said. Experts also plan mechanical inspections to make sure lights, brakes and other systems were working on all the involved vehicles.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485 or aburke@mailtribune.com.