Friends of Kent State University student Rachael Carlina "Carli" Woodruff are mourning her today following a deadly car crash near Columbus.
Woodruff, 19, of Loveland, northeast of Cincinnati, died Tuesday after a Streetsboro man lost control of the van he was driving, crossed three lanes of traffic, the median and a rest-stop exit ramp on Interstate 71 and struck Woodruff's car.
A sophomore at Kent State, Woodruff was an intervention specialist major in the College of Education, Health and Human Services at the Kent campus.
Her roommate, Chelsey Ellis, remembered "Carli" as "the best person I ever knew."
"She could walk into a room where she didn't know anyone and walk out with 15 new friends," Ellis said. "She was loving and so friendly and happy. She had an energy that made everyone smile."
Woodruff was on her way home for spring break when the accident happened. She had called Ellis from the rest stop.
"Carli would always call me on her way home to Cincinnati and we talked during the long drive," Ellis said. "The last thing she said to me was, 'I'll call you to let you know I got home safe Chels, love you!' I keep wishing I'll get that call."
Woodruff was leaving the rest stop to get back on I-71 when the crash happened.
Joshua T. Morris, 32, of Streetsboro, "became distracted by his cell phone and lost control of his vehicle," causing the crash, according to the Delaware County Ohio Highway Patrol post.
Morris was driving northbound in a 2006 Chevy cargo van owned by Dara Toy Company of Macedonia. The crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday near the 129-mile marker of I-71. Woodruff was pulling out of the southbound rest area when Morris struck her Pontiac.
Morris was not hurt in the accident. Paramedics took Woodruff to Grant Medical Center in Columbus, where she died shortly after the crash.
Charges are pending review of the case by the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, though Columbus TV station WBNS 10TV reported the highway patrol is recommending charges be filed against Morris.
Ellis said her roommate and best friend was someone she could trust with her life.
"Of all people, she did not deserve this," Ellis said.
Kent State English professor Matthew Shank had Woodruff in a college writing class in the fall of 2009. Shank said they kept in touch loosely through Facebook and remembered her as a sweet kid who was always upbeat, smiling "and also willing to take a little teasing and give it right back."
"I always hope to have at least one student with a personality like that in every class, because it helps set the tone for the rest of the students and makes the class more relaxed and fun," Shank said. "I'll always remember her sitting up front in class with that wonderful grin of hers, making my job a lot easier."
Patch Associate Local Editor Megan Rozsa contributed to this story.