ERIE COUNTY — A snowplow driver clearing a section of the Ohio Turnpike on Sunday afternoon caused damage to about 40 cars and caused several injuries, officials confirmed Monday.
The snowplow was traveling westbound in the left lane of the turnpike near the 117 milepost in Erie County, which is near the Ohio 250 interchange, when the plow threw snow, ice and slush over the median divider wall and onto oncoming traffic, according to Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
The wintry mix hitting the oncoming vehicles “appears to have occurred over a couple miles, resulting in damage to approximately 40 cars and trucks, caused accidents, and unfortunately injuries,” Ahmed said in a statement issued Monday. The operator of the snowplow was not identified.
Snowplow driver tested for drugs and alcohol, placed on leave
“As with any incident that results in accident or injury, the employee was immediately removed from shift and sent for mandatory drug and alcohol testing,” he said. “The employee is currently on administrative leave pending the outcome of these investigations when appropriate action will be taken.”
According to WKYC-TV in Cleveland, there were 12 known injuries caused by the crashes.
The television station reported that the Ohio Highway Patrol responded to the situation at 1:46 p.m. Sunday.
Ahmed said the Turnpike Commission is coordinating its efforts with the highway patrol and officials are contacting each customer directly who was affected by Sunday’s snowplow incident.
Individuals wishing to file a property damage claim with the Ohio Turnpike can do so on the turnpike’s website at ohioturnpike.org/travelers/property-damage-claim.
Affected customers are encouraged to contact their individual insurance companies to address vehicle damage and immediate transportation needs.
Ohio Turnpike employees undergo extensive training
Ahmed said all snow and ice operations conducted on the Ohio Turnpike are performed by turnpike employees, utilizing commission equipment, adding that all turnpike employees go through an extensive training including snow and ice removal.
“In addition to the extensive training, our snowplow operators are provided with some of the best equipment in the industry to perform their job duties. Our track record in snow and ice operations over the past 66 years speaks for itself,” he said.
“This was an isolated incident involving a single operator and is not representative of our employees or our operations,” Ahmed said.
The Ohio Highway Patrol, Ohio Turnpike Maintenance, and disabled vehicle service companies, Interstate Towing and Madison Motor Service, assisted in removing the vehicles from the turnpike.
Ahmed said turnpike officials took the customers to the patrol post in Milan, Ohio, as well as a local restaurant and hotel.
Motorists with questions can contact the Ohio Turnpike Customer Service Center at 440-971-2222.
This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Ohio Turnpike crashes, injuries in Erie County caused by snowplow