A Marietta man and a Vincent woman died Thursday morning when the milk tanker truck they were in lost control and went over an embankment on Ohio 7 south of Marietta.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Dwight A. Knapp, 40, of 827 Second St., Marietta, and Chyennea Uppole, 20, of 128 Hall Road, were pronounced death at the scene of the crash, near the entrance of Solvay Advanced Polymers' employee park. The two were described by Trooper Lea Mikes, with the Marietta post, as family friends.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
First responders and workers from Gary’s Towing work to gain access to a Mack truck carrying a tanker of milk that ran off of Ohio 7 Thursday morning near the Solvay Advanced Polymers’ employee park Thursday. Both occupants of the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene.
Knapp was an employee of William Ford Trucking of Marietta, which owns the 1988 Mack truck he was driving. The tank was full of milk to be delivered in Marietta.
Mikes said a witness called in the crash at 5:37 a.m. The truck was heading north on Ohio 7 near milepost 17 when it went off the right side of the road and struck a guardrail. The truck then went across the road into the median before swerving back to the right and into the median a second time.
Coming out of the median, Mikes said, the truck went right again, crossing the private drive to the Solvay park and going over the guardrail and down the embankment, striking several trees along the way and coming to a rest partially overturned.
Knapp and Uppole were not wearing seatbelts, Mikes said.
At one point nearly a dozen emergency vehicles were on scene as the patrol, Washington County Sheriff's Office and Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department responded. Traffic in the northbound lane of Ohio 7 at the site was reduced to one lane for several hours.
When firefighters arrived, the truck was barely visible because of all the trees and brush, Warren Fire Chief Mark Wile said.
"It's wedged in there amongst trees," he said, calling the scene "one of the hardest ones to get to that I've been on."
First responders proceeded with caution as they tried to right the truck and get it back on the road.
"Nothing fast's going to happen here," Wile said as they continued to work around 9 a.m. Thursday. "I want to keep my responders safe because we're cutting trees and moving cable here. We don't need anybody else hurt."
The crash was still under investigation Thursday afternoon, and Mikes said it was still not known what caused Knapp to lose control of the vehicle. Alcohol and drug use are not suspected, though, she said.
Uppole's cousin, Matt Erb, 21, of Marietta, was thinking of her as he prepared for Thursday night's demolition derby at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Earlier in the day, he'd painted the trunk of the car with her name, date of birth and the date of her death after learning about the accident.
Erb said Uppole enjoyed demolition derbies and would have been in the stands Thursday.
"I guess there was a reason why I didn't paint that part of the car," he said.