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Witness in Fatal Crash Said Car Swerved for 'No Apparent Reason'

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SOLON, Iowa - A witness who narrowly missed being involved in a fatal collision on Ely Road north of Solon on Monday morning told investigators the road conditions were fine and he saw no obvious reason for a Chevy Impala to cross the center line, according to the Iowa State Patrol.

Gregory Engrav, 37, of Solon, and his 5-year-old son, Zachary Engrav, died as a result of injuries suffered during the head-on collision Monday, the State Patrol reported. Engrav's silver Impala crossed the center line and slammed head-on into a white Ford Explorer about 8 a.m., according to the State Patrol.

The driver of the SUV, Melissa Bachus of Solon, was taken to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where Lt. Randy Jones said she was listed in stable condition and expected to survive.

Jones said a witness who was driving a Subaru ahead of Bachus' SUV saw the Impala heading into his lane and was clipped by the car before swerving onto the road's shoulder to avoid the crash. The Impala took off the Subaru's side mirror, but there was no other damage to that vehicle, Jones said.

The witness said the road conditions and visibility were good at the time of the crash, and he saw no reason for Engrav to drift into oncoming traffic, according to Jones.

"He's our best witness to the events," Jones said. "And he said the driver crossed the line for no apparent reason."

The Subaru driver said that because it happened so fast, he wasn't able to get a good look at the driver to determine whether he was distracted, according to Jones.

The State Patrol is waiting on toxicology tests from the medical examiner's office to determine whether alcohol or drugs were involved.

Gregory Engrav last year was charged with first-degree robbery in connection with a hold-up at Solon Drug, according to police. Engrav is accused of entering the store, armed with a knife, and demanding prescription medications from the pharmacist, according to prosecutors.

His trial was scheduled to begin March 7.

Zachary Engrav was in kindergarten at Lakeview Elementary in Solon. The school had counselors and other support staff available Monday afternoon to help students cope and provide parents with advice on how to talk to their children.

"We were here until 8 p.m. last night," Lakeview Principal Jodi Rickels said Tuesday. "We had a steady stream of parents and people who took advantage of the services."

The counseling services will be available through the week, Rickels said, as Solon is a tight-knit community that doesn't often experience tragedy like Monday's crash.

"With support, we are processing through it," Rickels said. "We are grappling with the news, and the students are feeling support and remembering Zach as their friend."

Rickels said she knew Zachary to be an "energetic, delightful little boy."

"He loved to play, and he had lots of friends," she said. "He had different friends for almost every recess. He would seek out anyone who wanted to have fun."

The kindergartner will be remembered for being funny, bright and friendly, Rickels said.

"He always would make a point to wave to me and the other adults he knew," she said. "And he was a hugger. He was a real cute and delightful little boy."

Rickels said she learned around 9:20 a.m. Monday about the fatal crash and that a child involved might have attended her school. She said the staff waited and prepared for the hard news.

"We got out the crisis plan and got things in place," she said. "We tried to deal with it the best way we know how."

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