Ohio Highway Patrol officials have confirmed that a third person has died as a result of a multiple-vehicle pileup on the Ohio Turnpike's eastbound lanes earlier today in Sandusky County. No other information is being released about the victims at this time.
The crash was reported at 1:25 p.m. on the Turnpike between mileposts 102 and 103. At 2:05 p.m., other responding emergency personnel learned that an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper was seriously injured after being pinned between two vehicles.
The highway patrol identified the injured trooper as Andrew B. Clouser, 29, who is assigned to the Milan post and has been with the patrol for 18 months. The patrol said he was in “stable, but serious condition” after being transferred to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo with injuries not considered life-threatening.
Mr. Clouser reportedly was pinned between two vehicles involved in the pileup, in which troopers estimated there were between 40 and 50 vehicles.
Both westbound and eastbound sides of the Ohio Turnpike remain shutdown after multiple tractor-trailer rigs collided, some overturning, in multiple areas stretching from Ottawa County into Erie County. Dozens of vehicles were involved.
The trooper was taken to Firelands Regional Medical Center in Sandusky with "severe injures," the Highway Patrol stated in a news release.
The dozens of involved vehicles all crashed within a 1-mile stretch of the Turnpike. No additional information was available.
Ohio Turnpike officials are reporting that a shoulder of the eastbound highway has been opened at milemarker 102 to allow traffic to begin moving in the area of the major accident. Authorities said traffic was still backed up about 7.4 miles in the eastbound lanes on the turnpike
State Rt. 2 east of Port Clinton was closed earlier today because of multiple accidents, but has been reopened.
There were multiple accidents in a construction zone, a sheriff's office dispatcher said. The stretch of highway was closed after 3:40 p.m. between State Rt 163 and to State Rt. 53 because of the wrecks.
Snowfall that pummeled northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan has moved out of Lucas County.
Both Lucas and Wood counties downgraded to a Level 2 snow emergency at 5 p.m. today. Huron and Erie counties also were at a Level 3 during the afternoon, but the snow emergency was downgraded to a Level 2 in the early evening.
Sheriff John Tharp, who declared a Level 3 emergency at 7 a.m. today, monitored the issue of high winds before making the decision on downgrading to Level 2.
Under a Level 2, roadways are considered hazardous and only those who need to be out should do so.
Throughout the afternoon, serious traffic issues - including a fatality on the Ohio Turnpike - were being reported across the area.
High school boys' basketball regional semifinals, including one involving Huron, were postponed.
Both westbound and eastbound portions of the turnpike were shut down after multiple tractor-trailer rigs overturned in multiple areas stretching from Ottawa County into Erie County.
Traffic was being diverted at the U.S. 250 exit in Erie County.
U.S. 24 near the Lucas/Henry County line was closed due to the weather. Officials said it is impassable because of the wind and snow.
All Lucas County government offices, area schools, and many businesses were forced to close today because of the snowstorm that began early today. Forecasters were predicting high winds and rapid snowfall — up to 8 inches — throughout the day.
Sheriff Tharp said State Rt. 2 in eastern Lucas County and into Ottawa County is treacherous. He said many accidents and vehicles going off the roadway into ditches have been reported.
As of 2 p.m. today, the total of new snow accumulation at Toledo Express Airport was 6.5 inches, bringing the season record-breaking amount to 84.3 inches, said Kristen Schepel, of the National Weather Service.
Dave Welch, Toledo’s streets, bridges, and harbor commissioner, said city plows would be on the roads in 12-hour shifts through Thursday.
Late this afternoon, plows were still clearing “phase one” roads, which are the city's main thoroughfares, but would move onto residential streets by evening.
He acknowledged it was difficult to keep streets clear during the day because of the heavy snowfall.
“The snow is coming down an inch or more, plus it was blowing back onto the roads,” he said.
There were 120 plows on Toledo's streets today, includng 35 private operators hired by the city.
Private plow operators, who are contracted by the city to help clear roads when a major snow storm hits, are expected to start working at 4 p.m.
The winter storm warning expired at 8 p.m. today.
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