A woman is fighting for her life in a hospital after a van crashed into a tree Thursday on Peru Center Road in rural Monroeville.
Lori A. Atkins, 37, of 312 S. Main St., Willard, was trapped in the front passenger's seat. Authorities determined she was wearing her seatbelt.
"It was a tough one," said Tom Beck, Huron River Joint Fire District chief. "It was a struggle to get her out. The dash was right up into her."
The driver, Todd L. Picklesimer, 42, of the same address, was driving a 1998 Mercury Villager minivan southbound at 11:05 a.m.
Picklesimer crossed the center line and went off the left side of the road, said troopers with the Norwalk post of the state Highway Patrol. The van hit a street sign and phone junction box before colliding head-on with a tree at 2918 Peru Center Road. Troopers said Picklesimer, who wasn't wearing his seatbelt, was ejected from the van.
(NOTE - To see pictures of the accident scene, click HERE.)
When authorities arrived, Picklesimer was laying alongside the vehicle, suffering from multiple fractures.
Huron River sent three trucks and nine firefighters to the scene.
Because of the heavy entrapment and the difficulty in removing Atkins, Beck requested assistance from the Norwalk Fire Department. The Norwalk crew was called about noon.
"We struggled to get the dash off her," Beck said.
However, just prior to the arrival of Norwalk's two trucks and five firefighters, the Huron River crew was able to free Atkins. She sustained multiple trauma, which Beck labeled as "life-threatening."
"We appreciate their assistance," Beck said about Norwalk firefighters, who were at the scene about 45 minutes.
Picklesimer and Atkins were flown in separate LifeFlight helicopters to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo.
As of Thursday night, Atkins was listed in critical condition and Picklesmier in serious condition, a hospital spokesperson said.
Troopers said they suspect "drug impairment" was a factor in the one-vehicle crash, which remains under investigation.
"He had admitted to using heroin earlier in the day. We will be drawing blood," Sgt. Jason Demuth said Thursday afternoon. "He said he used it about 3 o'clock this morning."
The patrol will be requesting a blood sample be drawn from Picklesimer at Mercy St. Vincent.
North Central EMS also assisted at the scene.