Snowy, windy weather contributed to widespread traffic accidents across the area Saturday and may have been a factor in a fire that destroyed a home in eastern Ottawa County on Friday night.
The region’s latest snowstorm brought more than 3 inches to Toledo Express Airport on Friday night and Saturday, including steady light snow overnight followed by lake-effect squalls that swept in from Lake Michigan. The squalls created white-out conditions on highways, making driving treacherous.
The 3.6-inch snowfall as of 5 p.m. lifted Toledo’s record-setting January total to 36.4 inches and raised the season-to-date snowfall to 48.1 inches, according to National Weather Service data. A wind chill advisorywas posted until 10 a.m. today.
More snow was expected later today with the arrival of another storm from western Canada. An additional 1 to 2 inches was possible, and lighter snowfall after dark, according to the weather service.
On Saturday, many northwest Ohio counties, including Lucas County, were under Level 2 weather advisories, under which authorities discourage nonessential travel. The Level 2 continued this morning.
The weather led to a number of traffic accidents, including a multiple car injury crash that involved five vehicles that occurred at 9:49 a.m. Saturday in the westbound lanes of the Ohio Turnpike in Erie County's Oxford Township.
Here is what happened:
In the center of three lanes, Michael Rudie, 57, of Waldo, Wis., was driving a white 2008 Kenworth semi-truck hauling a standard box trailer, and Charles Garrison, 49, of Shipshewana, Ind. was driving a white 2006 Sterling semi-truck hauling a flatbed trailer.
In the left lane, Juan Olivera, 40, of East Chicago, Ind., was driving a white 2011 Dodge Dakota pickup truck. Arthur Olivera, 46, of Schereville, Ind., was a passenger in the pickup.
And in the right lane, Eric Young Sr., 65, of Canton, was driving a white 2013 Peterbuilt semi, hauling a tanker trailer with hazardous materials.
All of those vehicles were slowing or stopped in traffic due to a previous accident when this accident happened, said troopers with the state Highway Patrol’s Milan post.
Sergii Prysiazhniuk, 25, of Parma, was driving red 2006 Volvo semi-truck hauling a standard box trailer in the center lane, approaching the slowed traffic, and did not have enough distance to stop, causing him to drive the truck into the back of the semi driven by Rudie, troopers said.
That sent Rudie's semi into the semi driven by Garrison, and Rudie's trailer into the path of Young's semi and tanker trailer, causing him to strike it. No hazardous material was released from the tanker, troopers said.
After the initial contact, Prysiazhniuk's trailer became to jackknife to the left and struck Olivera's pickup.
Prysiazhniuk's rig came to rest with its trailer sitting on top of the concrete median barrier, and his tractor facing east bound. All the vehicles involved became disabled, blocking all three lanes of the turnpike.
As a result of this crash, several other crashes occurred due to having to stop abruptly to avoid the crash, troopers said.
Small amounts of diesel fuel and other vehicle fluids were leaked onto the roadway, but no large amounts of hazardous materials were released.
Traffic on the Ohio Turnpike had to be diverted off of exit 118, onto U.S. 250, where it was detoured to Ohio 2 and then to Ohio 4, where travelers could get back onto the Turnpike via exit 110. Traffic that was caught in the rear of the back-up were turned around and allowed to exit at exit 118.
Traffic was at stand still until 12:21 p.m. when the north berm was opened and traffic was allowed to pass. Once the back-up was cleared ,the highway remained closed so that clean-up crews could clear the roadway of debris. All three lanes of the highway were re-opened at 2:29 p.m.
Prysiazhniuk was transported by ambulance to Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky with non-life threatening injures. No other injuries were reported, troopers said.
Prysiazhniuk was found to be the at fault party for the crash and was cited under Ohio Revised Code 4511.21A (failure to maintain assured clear distance ahead). It is believed that all parties were wearing their safety belts at the time of the collision and alcohol is not a factor in the crash, troopers said.
Assisting the Milan post at the scene was: Troopers from the Sandusky Highway Patrol Post, The Erie County Sheriff’s Department, Milan Township Fire Department., Groton Township Fire Department, North Central EMS and Ohio Turnpike Maintenance and Safety crews.
Among other crashes that appeared to be weather related were a string of collisions reported within 35 minutes of each other Saturday morning along northbound I-75 in Hancock County, including a six-vehicle chain reaction.
Troopers at the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Findlay post said the pileup began about 9:25 a.m. just north of State Rt. 235 in Union Township, when a sport utility vehicle driven by Walter Gordon, 42, of Smyrna, Ga., stopped because of an earlier crash, was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer driven by Amos Kadja, 44, of Pickerington, Ohio. The semi jackknifed and struck the side of an SUV driven by Tamera Henry, 43, of Bluffton, Ohio.
As the semi continued to jackknife, it struck another semi driven by Yves Lefort, 48, of St. Chrysostome, Que., and a pickup driven by James Steen, 59, of Findlay. Mr. Steen lost control and struck a car driven by Abdiaziz Awale, 50, of Ontario.
Mr. Awale was taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, troopers said. A condition was not available. No citations were issued.
Within 35 minutes, several more crashes were reported near the Route 235 interchange during a snow squall, with several tractor-trailers in the median.
A truck driven by Hao Liu, 56, of Cincinnati slid off the right shoulder and rolled onto its left side in a ditch, while an SUV driven by Kim Broomhall, 56, of Kettering, Ohio, went off the left shoulder and struck a truck stranded in the median. Both drivers were treated for minor injuries at Blanchard Valley.
U.S. 23 was closed in Sylvania between the Michigan border and Central Avenue because of a series of crashes, including one involving a jackknifed semi and several cars. On the Ohio Turnpike, a car rollover near the U.S. 250 interchange south of Sandusky trapped the westbound car’s occupants but caused no serious injuries, while numerous slide-offs were reported elsewhere.
Southbound State Rt. 25 south of Dowling Road in Wood County was closed for about 20 minutes at midafternoon as troopers from the Bowling Green post cleared a chain-reaction crash. One patrol vehicle was struck and had minor damage but remained in service. A wrecker also was hit. Troopers reported no injuries.
In Ottawa County’s Danbury Township, officials said fire that destroyed the home of Jodi Kopanski in the 300 block of Florence Drive was tentatively blamed on a wood-burning stove.
Doug Waugh, chief of the Danbury Township Volunteer Fire Department, said Ms. Kopanski left a fire in the stove when she left the home around 6 p.m., and saw flames inside the house and smoke from the roof when she returned around 10:15 p.m.
Fire was heaviest near the chimney, the chief said. No one was hurt, but Ms. Kopanski’s cat may have been killed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) contributed to this story via MCT Information Services.