Tony Mook and Rick Ratliff met while driving four-wheel, off-road vehicles in the woods.
The two Akron men became fast friends.
On Wednesday night, after Ratliff had taken a four-wheeler he just bought to his Kenmore home, a home he finalized paperwork to purchase that day, the two men were killed in a crash on West Wilbeth Road in Akron.
The details of how the crash occurred are unclear.
At 9 p.m., Ratliff, 34, and Mook, 24, were in Ratliff’s 1984 Chevy Caprice on West Wilbeth Road, when their car collided with a 1980 Ford Bronco driven by Steven Hudson, 39, of Akron.
Ratliff and Mook were killed. Hudson was listed in serious condition at Akron General Medical Center’s intensive care unit.
Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards said that because of the intensity of the crash, investigators have been unable to determine the direction that the vehicles were traveling or which driver was responsible for the collision.
He said it appeared that speed was a factor. There was no evidence at the scene of alcohol involvement, Edwards said.
The Beacon Journal was unable to reach Hudson’s family for this article.
Tony Mook’s father, Charles “Chuck” Mook, said his son and Ratliff met while riding off-road vehicles about seven or eight years ago, and the two spent much time together.
“Everybody loved that guy,” he said of his son.
He said the family donated his son’s organs to help others.
“That is something he would approve of,” he said. “He was a very helpful” son, he said.
Mook, a Kenmore High School graduate, was a summer intern for the city of Akron while in high school and had worked for the city for six years, most recently as a sewer service worker.
“As a utility family, we are deeply saddened by his passing and will greatly miss him,” said Jim Hewitt, the city’s public utilities manager.
A memorial service for Mook, who is survived by his father and mother, Mary, and five siblings, is planned for early March, but details were not finalized.
Christy Wilson, who was engaged to Ratliff, said the two had been together for 10 years. On the day of the crash, they had signed papers to finalize the purchase of the Kenmore home where they have lived for four years, she said.
The couple has one daughter together, Kayla Ratliff, and she has two other children, Tyler and Ashley Wilson.
“He would do anything for anybody,” she said of her fiance, who had worked for Newman Sign Co. for 13 years.
She said Ratliff was driving his late grandfather’s Caprice, a car he kept in immaculate condition and washed every chance he could.
She said she set up a savings account Friday in her name, Christy Wilson, at Chase Bank, to raise money to support her family in the wake of the loss of her fiance, the sole breadwinner in her family. Donations can be made at the Barberton Branch at 444 Robinson Ave. or at any other branch, bank officials said.
“He worked every day to take care of me and the kids to make sure we could make it,” said Wilson, a stay-at-home-mom.
Calling hours for Ratliff will be 3 to 6 p.m. Monday followed by a memorial service at 6 p.m. at Park United Methodist Church at 2308 24th St. SW in Akron.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.