OSHP Trooper in critical condition, 3 killed in turnpike pileup - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

OSHP Trooper in critical condition after 3 killed in massive turnpike pile-up

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(Source: Sandusky Register/Shawn Foucher) (Source: Sandusky Register/Shawn Foucher)
(Toledo News Now) -

The Ohio Turnpike is slowly reopening eastbound and westbound in Sandusky County after a massive pileup that involved more than 50 vehicles Wednesday afternoon. The crashes killed three people and seriously injured an Ohio State Highway Patrolman.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol says just before 1:30 p.m. in the eastbound lanes just past Fremont, the first crash was reported. It set off a chain reaction of accidents involving more than 50 vehicles. Another major crash happened about a half mile behind the first accident. In all, the accident scene spanned about two miles.

Trooper Andrew Clouser, 29, was pinned between two vehicles after responding to the first accident. This crash started a chain reaction of crashes with two severe crash zones, one near the initial crash by milepost 102 and one at the rear by milepost 101. According to the OSHP, approximately 50 vehicles were trapped between these two crash zones with minor or no damage to the vehicles.

Clouser was first taken to a Sandusky hospital, but was later transported to a Toledo hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. He is currently under observation in the intensive care unit and is listed in critical condition.

It is unclear how many others were injured.

Three people were killed in the crashes. Those killed in the first crash zone, which involved approximately 16 vehicles, have been identified as Hannah Matheny, 20, of Parma, OH, who was a passenger in a Ford Focus, and Grzegorz Piwowarczyk, 42, of Palatine, IL, who was driving a commercial vehicle.

The second crash zone, involving approximately 20 vehicles, resulted in the death of Janice Robb, 66, of Schererville, IN. The victim was a passenger in a Chevy Venture.

The crash remains under investigation.

"It's just awful. I mean, being out in these conditions when people have to go places. It's just, I mean, there's really not much you can do," said Amanda Swedersky, who lives near the scene.

Drivers stuck in their cars for hours during clean-up had nowhere to go. So Phil Thompson, who lives nearby, came to help.

"I'm coming to give a hand. They've got quite a mess out here, so I figure I'll come out and give a hand," said Thompson. "I've got some blankets in here for whoever needs blankets. Got some water in the bag in case someone is thirsty, whatever it may be."

Ohio Turnpike spokesperson Adam Greenslade says the weather, which included level 3 snow emergencies, created several other accidents in the area, making this major pile-up an even bigger challenge. 

The Turnpike was closed in both directions from exit 91 (SR 53) to exit 110 (SR 4) for most of Wednesday.

Around 10:30 Thursday morning, the Turnpike opened two eastbound lanes, leaving the right lane closed because of debris. Greenslade says Thursday's focus was removing the 10 semi trucks left on the Turnpike, which could take all evening. Once removed, the focus will be on the debris at that point, closing the right lane.

On and off Thursday, eastbound Ohio Turnpike traffic in Sandusky County was diverted off the Turnpike at exit 91 (SR53/Fremont) due to heavy, slow traffic.

Greenslade says there is currently no traffic backup and at any moment, the left lane - which has been closed Friday - will reopen.

All three lanes will be open for the weekend, but on Monday,the right lane will be closed once again, as the final two commercial vehicles are removed from the ditch.

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Copyright 2014 Toledo News Now. All rights reserved.

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