An Ohio turnpike accident killed three and left an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper seriously injured. Authorities said the chain-reaction collision began at around 1:05 pm on March 12. Although the accident started in the eastbound lane, a similar pileup eventually blocked the westbound lane as well.
Although the region saw temperatures above 50 degrees on Tuesday, a late-season snowstorm on Wednesday made driving conditions incredibly dangerous.
The accidents, which occurred between Erie and Sandusky County, halted traffic in both lanes for several hours. Prior to the closure, traffic was backed up for nearly seven miles.
Trooper Andrew Clouser responded to the scene and was crushed between two vehicles. Although he was severely injured, he is currently listed in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Toledo hospital.
Authorities identified those killed as Hannah Matheny, age 20, Grzegorz Piwowarczyk, age 42, and Janice Robb, age 66.
As reported by the Toledo Blade, the Ohio turnpike accident was"the deadliest weather-related crash so far this winter." The region has experienced an unusually high amount of snow, which has broken numerous records.
The Northwest Ohio region has officially received 84.8" of show this season, which is more than 7 feet. Although snow is not unusual during the winter, this season has been specifically harsh. Prior to 2013, the record was set in 1977-78 with 73.1" of snow.
Although the region warmed up early this week, the melted snow turned to ice when the temperature rapidly dropped. As snow fell on top of the ice, the roads became treacherous. The storm moved into the region during rush-hour and created whiteout conditions in many areas.
The reduced visibility and limited traction caused numerous accidents, which closed many roads throughout Erie, Lucas, Wood, and Sandusky County.
With the exception of a few lanes, the Ohio turnpike is now open. However, as temperatures remain below freezing, drivers are urged to use caution. The exit and entrance ramps are a specific concern, especially in Sandusky and Erie County.
It is unclear how many were injured in the Ohio turnpike accident, as dealing with the fatalities and clearing the road were the most pressing concerns. In addition to police and rescue crews, numerous residents responded to the scene. Toledo News Now reports that the good Samaritans delivered food, water, and blankets to the stranded motorists.
Several residents showed up on snowmobiles to transport drivers away from the scene. Although the Ohio turnpike accident ended in tragedy, the community pulled together to assist the weary authorities.
[Images via ABC News and Cleveland.com]