Police Chase, 1970s

A car chase that began in the Cleveland Metroparks in Solon quickly made its way into Twinsburg, as Metroparks and Solon police pursued a vehicle driven by Erwin Hawkins of Cleveland after he resisted arrest for an unspecified crime. When Hawkins entered the city, Twinsburg police, as well as officers from Boston Heights, Hudson, Macedonia, Oakwood, and Reminderville, joined in pursuit of the fleeing fugitive. Hawkins’s car careened dangerously through the streets of Twinsburg. He was desperately attempting to reach his sister’s residence at Whitewood Apartments off Ravenna Road. But in the parking lot of the apartment complex police cars surrounded him, thwarting his escape.

He may have been cornered, but he refused to cower. Hawkins took hold of a tire iron and proceeded to swing wildly at the officers. During the course of his onslaught, Hawkins caused considerable damage to the patrol car of Twinsburg officer Joe Jasany—beating out the windows and headlights. In the meantime, a crowd of onlookers had gathered, preventing the police from retaliating with gunfire. Officers were forced to hold fire lest innocent bystanders become accidental casualties.

Finally, Chief Donald Prange decided desperate measures were needed. Prange called the Twinsburg Fire Department, asking for assistance. Engine seven, equipped with five firefighters, swiftly arrived at the site of the standoff. The firefighters readied their hoses, aiming at their target, moments away from spraying a fierce flood of water at Hawkins. Seeing there was simply no defense against the inch-and-a-half hose, Hawkins dropped his tire iron and forfeited his freedom, though once placed in a police cruiser he proceeded to try kicking out the windows. Officers transported Hawkins to the Twinsburg jail, where he continued to violently resist arrest. During the ensuing struggle, a Macedonia police officer’s hand got jammed in the frame of the jail door, and four of his fingers were broken.

Lake Plata

One of the staples for summer fun in Northeast Ohio near the midpoint of the twentieth century was Lake Plata. Located off Chamberlin Road, not far from the Chrysler plant, the water park was the ideal and idyllic setting for a tranquil summer day’s swim or simply to sunbathe. Lake Plata was utilized for activities as diverse as a fish fry held by the Fraternal Order of Police to swimming lessons for little tykes.

Lake Plata was a source of fun and frivolity for most, but a number people met their demise while swimming in the seemingly safe waters, briefly overshadowing the festivity on innumerable occasions.

One of the most interesting and harrowing events that took place at Lake Plata was the murder of Cleveland financial promoter Mervin Gold. Mr. Gold’s bullet-riddled body was found in the trunk of a car five miles from where Twinsburg residents had heard gunfire at Lake Plata. He had been shot, strangled, and wrapped in a blanket. This was possibly a mob hit, as Gold had purportedly engaged in a heated phone conversation with notorious Cleveland mobster Shondor Birns shortly before his death.

The property was initially owned by Oscar and Helen Cisar, who in turn deeded it to the Plata family. The popular recreational destination stayed in the possession of the Plata family until 1980, when Sylvester Plata was unable to make his mortgage payments and the sixty-five-acre property fell into receivership. Summit County judge Daniel Quillin handled the sale and advertised a minimum bid of $500,000.

As early as 1972 the City of Twinsburg paid $4,000 for an appraisal of Lake Plata in hopes of purchasing the property for the Parks and Recreation Department. When the recreational resource fell into receivership in 1980 the majority of Twinsburg City Council wanted to purchase the land, but Mayor Perici was against acquisition due to numerous unanswered questions. Twinsburg bid $515,000 ($250,000 immediately and $265,000 before January 31, 1981), but Miklos Janosi of Cleveland, part owner of Lake Plata, outbid them by $5,000.

Today Lake Plata remains, but it is no longer a recreational destination. The surrounding land has been redeveloped into a residential neighborhood.