No Charges in Crash that Killed Kent State Professor
Gordon F. Vars' death ruled accidental
No charges will be filed in the death of a Kent State University emeritus professor who died shortly after being struck by a car in January near his Kent home.
The death of Gordon F. Vars has been ruled an accident by police and coroner officials. Vars, 88, died Jan. 31 after he was hit while walking across Fairchild Avenue in front of his house late at night.
Kent Police Capt. Paul Canfield said the department's accident reconstruction expert including information from the final coroner's report in reviewing the case.
"Our investigation reveals that the driver was at or near the speed limit, and it was just a bad set of circumstances that led to the collision," Canfield said.
Vars was crossing Fairchild Avenue in a marked crosswalk on the west side of Woodard Avenue when he was struck by Deborah Graef, 57, of Cuyahoga Falls. Graef was driving westbound on Fairchild Avenue. The speed limit is 25 mph in that stretch of road.
Canfield said the darkness and a light rain — both of which reduce visibility — were contributing factors in the crash.
"As you’re driving, particularly westbound, it’s not the most well-lit intersection," he said.
Patrick Gillespie, a spokesperson for the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office, said Vars' death was ruled accidental though he sustained blunt force trauma to the head.
"We ruled it an accident, and he died from blunt force trauma he received in the crash," Gillespie said.
Vars was an emeritus professor of teaching, leadership and curriculum studies.
He was a very active member of Friends of the Kent Bog, a group "dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Tom S. Cooperrider Kent Bog State Nature Preserve for the education, enjoyment and inspiration of present and future generations.
The half-mile long boardwalk winding through the Kent Bog is being named in his honor.
In March, the Portage Park District Foundation named Vars among its 2012 Portage County Environmental Conservation Award Winners.