SALEM TOWNSHIP-A child was killed and two other people were rushed to Marietta Memorial Hospital after a 2011 Mitsubishi convertible crossed the median and plowed into an oncoming tractor-trailer rig near the 8-mile marker on I-77 around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Dying of injuries suffered in the crash was passenger Rebecca Woodburn, 10, of Alliance, according to the Marietta post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
The girl was trapped in the wreckage of the car and had to be removed using special tools used at crash scenes. Woodburn was transported to Marietta Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Officers with the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Marietta post examine what remains of a Mitsubishi convertible after the vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer rig in the southbound lanes of I-77 near the 8-mile marker Thursday afternoon.
Elkins, W.Va., resident Bob Snelson was on his way home from Cleveland when he saw the car collide with the semi in the southbound lane, just ahead of his vehicle.
"She was headed north when the car crossed the median and spun around. The car was going backward in the southbound lane when it struck the truck," Snelson said, adding that the woman driving the car was thrown through the top of the convertible and landed on the pavement.
"I stopped and got out to see if I could help and called 911," he said.
The driver of the car was identified by the patrol as Michelle Lynch, 42, of Alliance, who is Woodburn's aunt. The two were headed to northern Ohio from Georgia, according to Lt. Mary Pfeifer, of the Marietta patrol post.
Snelson and another driver checked on the woman, who was lying in the middle of the roadway.
"I covered her up and tried to keep her still. She talked to me, but said she didn't know what happened," he said.
Snelson said the woman was worried about the child's condition.
He said the truck driver, identified by the patrol as Juan Carlos Alvarado, of Kissimmee, Fla., appeared to have injured his arm and may have had other injuries. He was transported to Marietta Memorial.
Investigators said it appeared the Mitsubishi was attempting to pass another vehicle in the northbound lane when the convertible began to hydroplane on the wet pavement and traveled across the median into the southbound lane and into the path of the oncoming semi.
Alvarado attempted to avoid the collision, the patrol said, by swerving to the right into a guardrail.
Traffic headed south on I-77 was backed up for a couple of miles for at least two hours as both of the southbound lanes had to be closed following the crash. The northbound lanes remained open.
Lynch was not wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash, according to the patrol, which dispatched its crash reconstructionist to the scene. Both front airbags in the car deployed, the patrol said. It's not known where the girl was seated or whether she was wearing a seatbelt.
Southbound vehicles were diverted onto Ohio 821 at Macksburg, about 10 miles north of the accident scene, until one lane was finally opened around 4:30 p.m.
Volunteer fire and rescue units from Devola, Salem Township and Fearing Township also responded to the scene.