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Ohio Turnpike snowplow damages at least 40 vehicles, injures 12

Erie county crash snow plow
Posted at 12:11 PM, Jan 24, 2022

ERIE COUNTY, Ohio — Video taken Sunday by a truck driver traveling on the Ohio Turnpike in Erie County shows a snowplow on the opposite side of the road throwing massive amounts of slush and snow across the highway and onto passing vehicles, causing several vehicles to swerve and one to drive off the road.

At around 1:46 p.m. local time, the Ohio State Highway Patrol received reports of the incident and responded to the eastbound lanes of the Ohio Turnpike between state Route 4 and state Route 250, according to Sgt. Ray Santiago. Troopers on scene discovered the snowplow had been traveling westbound in the inside lane and caused snow and ice debris to be thrown into the eastbound lanes, striking passing vehicles.

There were at least 40 vehicles involved and 12 known injuries, according to troopers.

Michael Lemon was traveling on the Ohio Turnpike near milepost 114 when his video captured the shocking moment.

"I've never seen anything like that," Lemon said. "I didn't know how to react, I was just dumbfounded that somebody could be so reckless."

The Ohio Turnpike is managed by an independent company, not the Ohio Department of Transportation, and one of the plow trucks was seen on video traveling the same speed as surrounding cars, around 70 mph, as it cleared snow from the road.

Because the truck was traveling at such a high speed, the snow was thrown to the other side of the highway, landing on cars driving in the opposite direction.

"A lot of them didn't even know what to do, they just they kind of tried to stay in their own lane and hope to weather it," Lemon said.

As the snow hit the cars, they lost control of their vehicles, with one car driving off the side of the road. That car, Lemon said, had a hole the size of a beach ball in the front windshield.

Lemon said he pulled over and talked to victims of the crash, some who had arm and shoulder injuries, others who had "blood all over their faces."

The incident damaged Lemon's truck as well.

"I had to go up 30 miles and turn around to find the Ohio State Highway Patrol because I didn't realize there was any damage to my vehicle until I went to change lanes afterwards," Lemon said. 'It literally blew out the entire headlight out of the hood of the car no longer attached to the truck."

Lemon said that while the roads were dangerous and everyone makes mistakes, sometimes people are just reckless—which he how he described the driver of the plow truck.

"The roads are dangerous, even the professionals make mistakes and then some of them are just flat out reckless, he should not have been plowing at 70 miles an hour," Lemon said.

On Monday morning, the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission issued the following statement in response to the video:

The Ohio State Patrol, Ohio Turnpike Maintenance, and disabled vehicle service companies, Interstate Towing and Madison Motor Service, assisted in removing the vehicles from the turnpike. We took the affected customers to the Patrol Post in Milan, as well as a local restaurant and hotel. We are working with the customers affected by this incident. The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission and Ohio State Highway Patrol are conducting investigations, and appropriate action will be taken pending the outcome of these investigations.

In addition, a spokesperson with the Ohio Turnpike confirmed the employee driving the plow truck was placed on administrative leave and was sent for mandatory drug and alcohol testing.

OSHP said that the incident remains under investigation and potential charges are pending the review of the Erie County Prosecutor's findings.

This story was originally published by Camryn Justice and Clay LePard of WEWS in Cleveland