Cyclist, 26, dies after New Russia hit-and-run

By Laurie Hamame -

Jason Baird died last Wednesday after being struck by a hit-and-run driver the previous day in New Russia Township.

Rene Dereksen, his mother, shared in a public Facebook post that he had swelling in his brain, a broken back, and facial damage.

The 26-year-old, who had been biking to work, was found in a ditch at 5:58 a.m. on Quarry Road just south of Rt. 511. His damaged bicycle was in the road and Baird had a large laceration to his head, according to state troopers.

He was flown by helicopter to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland where he underwent surgery for several hours, she said.

Baird had been traveling south to the Blue Rooster Bakehouse on South Main Street in Oberlin, where he was a kitchen staff member.

“He was a quick learner, hilariously funny, super sweet, wicked smart and, as an extra perk, had a very unique playlist on his phone and was always dancing to it…” bakery owners said in a public Facebook post. “He was literally a godsend for all of us.”

“We are in complete disbelief and shock and yet we realize that our sadness is nothing compared to that of his family. We ask you to send your prayers and healing thoughts to all of them. It came as no surprise to us that Jason was an organ donor. We look forward to hearing how many lives continue to be touched by this amazing young man.”

His heart, one lung, both kidneys, and his liver will be donated. The liver was lacerated, but still viable, Dereksen said.

Both of Baird’s arms will be donated for a study on limb transplant for combat veterans, and his sacrum will be used for cancer research.

A 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche believed to be involved in the crash was located in the parking lot of AutoCam Precision Components in Wellington by troopers from the Elyria post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The driver was identified as 28-year-old Jonathon Swiers of South Amherst, but no charges have been made as of this writing. Swiers was interviewed by investigators from the Office of Criminal Investigations in Cleveland.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame