A motorist called the Ohio Highway Patrol twice to report a possible drunk driver in the minutes leading up to a serious head-on crash Friday on Ohio 60 between Devola and Lowell, according to troopers investigating the crash.
The crash injured two people, including one who was listed in serious condition after being flown from the scene by medical helicopter to a Columbus trauma center. The crash also resulted in the busy state route being closed for nearly three hours.
"We just didn't have anyone in the area who could get here fast enough and neither did anyone else," said patrol Sgt. Garic Warner.
Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Eric Knowlton looks over a vehicle Friday evening that was involved in a head-on crash on Ohio 60 between Devola and Lowell. Two people were injured in the crash, with one person flown to a Columbus trauma center.
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
According to the patrol, the crash occurred at 5:26 p.m near milepost eight on Ohio 60 when John Smith, 39, of 901 Cisler Lane, Marietta, crossed the center line in his Buick Regal and went into the path of an oncoming Subaru Outback driven by 76-year-old Tommy Edinger of 939 Lancaster St., Marietta.
Troopers said Smith, who had been reported as the possible impaired motorist, was the most seriously injured and transported to Grant Medical Center in Columbus. Smith was listed in serious condition late Friday. Officials didn't know yet if Smith had consumed any alcohol.
Edinger was transported by the Devola Volunteer Fire Department to Marietta Memorial Hospital where he was still under evaluation at press time.
Waterford resident Kenny Root, 36, said he was driving northbound behind Edinger at the time of the crash.
"I saw the fella in front of me hit his brakes but the other car just kept coming over and slammed into him," Root said. "He never slowed down."
Root said Edinger was conscious but Smith appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness immediately following the wreck.
No charges have been filed. Warner said troopers would be interviewing Smith in Columbus to see if there were any indications of impairment.
"We don't know but when you get a call from someone suspecting it and then something like this happens, it makes you wonder," he said.
The impact of the crash forced Edinger's vehicle off the road and Smith's vehicle came to rest facing north in the middle of the roadway. Both vehicles sustained heavy front-end damage.
According to patrol dispatchers, the first report on Smith's driving was made at 5:15 p.m.
"Dispatch lost the caller, I don't know if it was bad cell service or what but the motorist called back at 5:22 p.m.," Warner said.
The caller was able to provide a license plate at that time, which was registered to Smith, according to the patrol. Four minutes later Smith allegedly went left of center.
"This is the biggest county in the state and we can't be everywhere," Warner said. "Still, getting that report got us started in this direction, which was good. Sometimes in a serious crash seconds count and having people and equipment rolling could save a life."