AKRON, Ohio — His bags were packed and his plans had been made. But a 27-year-old man known for his effervescence and strong work ethic didn't make it home Wednesday night, the day before he was set to start a new job in a new state. Friends and family of Clintin Churby, who worked at Summit Racing, remain shell-shocked after a wrong-way driver killed him on I-76 Wednesday night in Akron.
Shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, a 63-year-old man driving a pickup truck entered I-76 heading the wrong direction—eastbound in the westbound lanes—when he struck Churby near the top of the Central Interchange, according to Akron Police. Churby was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver was taken to Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center where his condition remains unknown. While the accident remains under investigation, police said it appears that alcohol may have played a factor in the fatal wrong-way crash.
According to Churby's mother, Sandi, Clintin had just finished a half-day at work at Summit Racing in anticipation of a promotion and transfer to a facility in Texas. Wednesday was his last day.
"He had it together. He was going to his next adventure. We were supposed to cry all night because he moved to Texas," Sandi said. "Now, we're going to cry forever."
Sandi Churby began to sense that something might be amiss when her son didn't come home between 8 and 9 p.m., his expected arrival. She initially thought that maybe he was tied up at work still saying goodbye to his friends and co-workers. She called. She left voicemails. She fired off text messages.
She was met with silence until a knock came on the front door.
"[Clintin] was a hard worker. He worked for a living. He didn't drink for a living. The irony..." Sandi Churby said as her voice trailed off. He was an innocent boy that was going places. It's not right. It's not right. Clintin made everybody smile. He was a happy boy. He was going places, literally."
Not much is known about the driver that cause the fatal crash. As of Thursday evening, formal charges have not been filed against the man. Police said in a news release Thursday that the investigation remains ongoing.
"I want [the wrong-way driver] to hear how many people he hurt. It's uncalled for. He drove for over a mile the wrong way at 8 p.m. at night. How do you do that? How do you get in your car, 63-years-old and drunk? How do you do that?" Sandi Churby said. "I almost wish he was younger so he could suffer longer in jail. He's not going to be there long enough."
Earlier this month, Clintin's closest friends joined him at a local campground to celebrate his new job and his new opportunity. Those smile-filled photos are even more precious now as Clintin's family begins planning his funeral services.
A GoFundMe has been set up in Clintin's name in order to help cover funeral expenses. You can find it by clicking here.