On December 23, 2022, a 51-vehicle crash at an Ohio Turnpike resulted in 4 dead and 71 injured people due to severe weather conditions. The crash occurred at 12:30 pm on the eastbound lane of the toll road in Erin County. The Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) released an 11-minute police body cam video of the deadly pileup.
Winter Storm Elliott hit northern Ohio on December 2022. The visibility was reduced to less than a quarter of a mile. Wind gusts were up to 38 miles per hour. Sandusky County was under a level 3 snow emergency. The roadway was covered with snow and ice with invisible left-edge lane markers. According to the OSHP’s accident report, the high winds and snow were the cause of the chain crash.
Ray Santiago, OSHP Stg, said the crash occurred between State Route 53 and Route 4 in Sandusky County and stretched into Erie County. The police report says that the accident started when several drivers lost control of their vehicles, blocking the eastbound lanes. The weather conditions were such that the oncoming drivers could not see the roadblock, so they hit the vehicles in front.
It was determined that a total of 51 vehicles participated in the pileup. Francisco Gutierrez-Martinez, 30, of Cleveland, Bernard M. Bloniarz, 59, of Napoleon, Julie E. Roth, 37, of Toledo, and Emma L. Smith, 19, of Webberville, Mich, were all killed in the crash. Gutierrez drove a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado. After the crash, he was transported first to Fireland Sandusky Healthcare Center and later to Metro Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Troopers were called around 12:30 and the dispatch center heard the vehicles crashing in the background. Troopers were on the scene around 1 pm.
OSHP Stg. Ryan Purpura pointed out that troopers from the Milan Post and investigators from the OSHP Crash Reconstruction section have not finished their work on this case. Videos, photos, and witness statements from the scene of the accident are still being reviewed. Police questioned almost every passenger in the vehicles involved in the crash. The police investigation has not yet found out which vehicles first blocked the road and caused the pileup.
The turnpike’s westbound lanes were closed from Sandusky to Fremont the entire day. Eastbound lanes were blocked by 15 commercial trucks until the next morning. The traffic on all lanes was opened at 5:15 pm on Dec. 24.
The Erie County Prosecutor’s Office will review the investigator’s report and determine any applicable charges against the responsible persons for the 51-vehicle crash on Ohio Turnpike with 4 dead and 73 injured people.