Snowy conditions and high speeds resulted in 18 crashes on the Fulton County portion of the Ohio Turnpike, Wednesday, Dec. 26.
The accidents kept rescue squads from three area fire departments busy for about four hours.
Only one accident resulted in a serious injury, but several motorists were stranded when their cars were incapacitated by the mishaps.
The Fulton County Red Cross chapter was called out to assist those persons.
Vern Fisher, lieutenant of the Swanton post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said there were 28 crashes in the Swanton post area of responsibility, which extends east from the Indiana state line to mile marker 80.
Of those, seven crashes involved injuries to eight persons. One, near the Archbold Fayette interchange at mile marker 25, was serious.
Most, Fisher said, were the result of motorists driving too fast for conditions.
“I was out all day that day, and I was going 50, maybe 55 (miles per hour) max,” he said.
“Everybody was passing me.”
The weather conditions weren’t a surprise.
“The snow had been forecast. The predictions were for quite a bit more than we got. We got about one to two inches,” Fisher said.
“The road got slippery, people tried to drive too fast, they would lose control, and go into the ditch.”
Fisher said most of the accidents were single-vehicle, two-vehicle, or at most, three-vehicle crashes. There wasn’t one long pileup.
Andy Brodbeck, Archbold Fire Department chief, said Archbold rescue units were first called to a crash at the 22.3-mile marker a little after 11 am.
The crash resulted in the most serious injury of the day.
Brodbeck said Medic 11 and ALS-1, the Archboldbased Fulton County paramedic unit, responded.
The patient was loaded aboard the Medic 11 ambulance, and with the paramedic team on board, started out for the Fulton County Health Center.
On the way to FCHC, it was decided the patient needed to go to a trauma center, so Medic 11 diverted to the University of Toledo Medical Center.
Brodbeck said all Archbold rescue workers were either on their way to Toledo or off the turnpike when they were called back to the toll road for a crash that might involve injuries.
“While we were en route, we got two additional calls (for accidents) at two different locations,” he said.
“I had an EMT (emergency medical technician) with me in my vehicle, so we went east of the (Archbold-Fayette interchange) toll booth, and we did a mobile triage.
“We had to find where the accidents were, and which ones had injuries. There were about eight accidents in a three-mile stretch.
“I dropped him (the EMT) at the first accident, and he administered care.”
Because of the number of accidents, the Fayette Fire Department was called, along with ALS-8, the Wauseon-based paramedics; Medic 81, WFD’s ambulance and crew; fire engines from Wauseon and Archbold; and Wauseon’s heavy rescue truck.
Brodbeck said he continued east, checking accidents. The last one he saw was at about the 30-mile marker.
“ALS-8 and Medic 81 went west, checking accidents as they went,” Brodbeck said.
“There were three or four injuries. Medic 10 (a second Archbold ambulance) and Medic 32 (Fayette Rescue) transported them to the (Fulton County) Health Center.”
There were several accidents west of the Archbold- Fayette interchange, most of which did not involve injuries.
Brodbeck said a Fayette fire truck, Wauseon’s heavy rescue truck, and Archbold fire engine No. 104, along with Ohio Turnpike Commission snowplows and pickup trucks, transported the stranded motorists to the Tiffin River and Indian Meadow service plazas in Williams County, or the OTC maintenance facility in Williams County.
At the request of Brodbeck, Heather Kost, Fulton County Emergency Management Agency director, called out the county Red Cross chapter to assist stranded motorists.
All told, Brodbeck said emergency crews were on the turnpike about four hours.
104 Breaks Down
During the response to the crashes on the turnpike, the alternator on AFD Engine No. 104 failed, knocking the truck out of commission.
“It went dead on the turnpike,” Brodbeck said.
The stranded motorists aboard No. 104 were moved to another vehicle. Truck No. 104 was towed for repair.
Engine No. 104 was delivered to AFD in 1999.
It took extra time to get the special fire truck alternator delivered, but Brodbeck said it has been repaired, and the truck is back in service.–David Pugh