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'That’s why the kids are dying'

By JOE CENTERS • Updated Feb 17, 2017 at 12:43 AM

Diane Friel says it’s time something is done.

A one-vehicle accident Tuesday on North Ohio 99, about two miles north of U.S. 20, was another in a long list of accidents at the big curve in the road.

Two people were taken to the hospital by ambulance Tuesday afternoon following the crash. The driver was heading north on Ohio 99 when his pickup truck went off the side of the road. Officials at the scene said the driver told them he swerved to miss an animal. The pickup hit a guy wire attached to a utility pole. The pole snapped in half and Ohio Edison was called in for repairs.

The passenger appeared to be the most seriously injured, while the driver walked to the ambulance.

“I have four children who have graduated (from Monroeville High School) and out of the four of them they have had three separate friends die,” Friel said.

Friel’s friend, Sarah Lawrence, lives at 4539 N. Ohio 99. 

“She’s just before the curve,” Friel said. “You can see the spot from the window. It’s a 45 (mph) zone right by the cemetery and the sign comes right on you. I think it should be 35. It’s too fast for the area. If you don’t know the road (it’s dangerous). ... That’s why the kids are dying.”

Friel contacted the Ohio Department of Transportation District 3 office in Ashland on Tuesday.

“District 3 is supposed to gather all of the information,” she said. “I’ll bet we see three wrecks a year. It’s a lot worse going south toward Monroeville. Going north there isn’t even a caution.

“For years it has been bothering me. I just want them to do something. If they tallied all of that up,” Friel said. “The district knows about this. It’s just not a one-time deal. It keeps going on year after year.”

There are 45 mph signs in each direction heading into the curve.

Huron River Joint Fire District Chief Tom Beck and his firefighters cover that stretch of Ohio 99.

“We’ve had a number of bad accidents there and a few fatalities,” Beck said. “The one last year a kid fell asleep. Several years ago a woman swerved and went head-on into an ambulance. She was killed and a patient in the ambulance was killed.”

Beck said it is up to ODOT to make any changes, and the agency has helped out in the past.

“(Ohio) 99 and 113 used to be our worst intersection,” Beck said. “We put a little pressure on the state and they turned it into a four-way stop. Now our worst intersection is 547 and 4. ... And sometimes it is at the curve (on Ohio 547) about a mile before 4.

Crystal Neelon, a spokeswoman from the ODOT public information office in Ashland, said her department already is looking into the situation.

“We did get a phone call (Tuesday),” Neelon said. “Yesterday (Tuesday) actually was the first phone call we did receive about this curve.”

Neelon talked about what will happen now.

“What we will do once a complaint comes in is we review the number of accidents,” she said. “We do a field visit, review the signs in the area and make sure they are sufficient.

“Then we do a a ball-bank study. That would determine if we need new signage there depending on the curve. How intense the curve is determines what kind of signs we would need or if we would need flashing lights.

“They are looking into it and have run the crash reports,” Neelon said.

Neelon did point out Tuesday’s accident “had nothing to do with the curve” because the driver said he swerved to avoid an animal.

“We really do try to look at any areas with high crash rates or something that is brought to our attention,” Neelon said. “We do take it very seriously.”

Neelon said District 3 is made up of 4,223 miles of road, including interstate, U.S. and Ohio routes.

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