50-car crash on Ohio Turnpike in Sandusky, Erie Counties kills 3; trooper pinned

Interview with trucker stuck for 12 hours

SANDUSKY, Ohio - Turnpike crews are turning vehicles around at the Fremont eastbound entrance.

The turnpike is shut down from there to the scene of Wednesday's deadly 50-car pile-up as authorities continue clean up efforts at the scene of the crash.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and a Turnpike official is warning drivers to expect delays.

Early Thursday morning, there were still smashed trailers and tractors on either side of the Turnpike's eastbound lanes.

The traffic stuck behind the more-than-mile-long wreckage was backed-up for nearly 12 hours. Troopers said early Thursday, many of these vehicles were semi's and were unable to get off the highway after the accident occurred.

Those vehicles sat trapped as sitting ducks as temperatures dipped into the teens late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Thursday morning, authorities also raised the death toll in the 50-car pile-up to three people killed.

The three victims are identified as Hannah Matheny, 20, of Parma, Grzegorz Piwowarczyk, 42, of Palatine, IL, and Janice Robb, 66, of Schererville, IN.  According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol Milan Post Trooper Andrew B. Clouser is currently in ICU at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo. He is in stable but serious condition.

The Ohio Turnpike released this statement Thursday regarding the fatal accident:

“Employees at the Ohio Turnpike send our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost and all individuals who were affected by yesterday’s tragic events. We also wish to express our gratitude to the customers who were delayed by the weather‐related closures and for their patience, understanding, and cooperation. Despite many, many challenges due to the severity of the wreckage, a number of crews and Turnpike partners’ worked around-the-clock so that our customers could get moving again. A full investigation of these accidents is currently being conducted by the Ohio State Highway Patrol with the assistance of the Ohio Turnpike. Once the investigation is complete, additional information will be available."

The first crash was reported at approximately 1:25 p.m. Patrol personnel learned the trooper was pinned at 2:05 p.m.

Emergency crews quickly transported Trooper Clouser to Firelands Hospital in Sandusky with severe injuries.

While authorities work to clean up debris, Ohio Turnpike, Adam Greenslade warned Thursday, conditions on the road between the debris and ice are still treacherous.

Another series of pileups involving 15 vehicles about 10 miles to the east shut down the turnpike's westbound lanes near Sandusky Wednesday.

Video and image courtesy Shawn Foucher and the Sandusky Register

Drivers headed towards Cleveland from the Toledo area are being directed from the Fremont exit to a detour on Rt. 20.

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