Multiple deaths and injuries after nearly 50-car pileup in Ohio due to winter storm, whiteout conditions

Winter weather turned deadly in Ohio Friday afternoon when roughly 50 cars were involved in a pileup leaving law enforcement warning motorists to stay home after a “stark reminder.”

As Winter Storm Elliot swept across the United States, icy roads and white-out conditions near Lake Erie resulted in four fatalities along the Ohio Turnpike Friday afternoon when, combined, at least 46 tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles shut down traffic in both directions. The initial crash was said to have occurred around 12:30 p.m. near mile marker 106 heading eastbound in Sandusky County with the resulting pileup shutting down the road from exit 91 to 118.

According to the Weather Channel, at the time of the accident wind gusts had achieved speeds of up to forty miles per hour and the wind chill was as low as negative thirty degrees. Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Ryan Purpura provided updates about the accident throughout the day while west and eastbound traffic remained shut down for emergency crews to render aid.

Late Friday, after confirming the four fatalities and reporting numerous more injured were transported to hospitals or warming stations, Purpura somberly stated, “This is a stark reminder of what can happen when you get behind the wheel and try to drive in bad weather conditions. High winds are still remaining and white-out conditions are still persistent. We ask that you do not travel unless you absolutely have to.”

The OSHP also reported that between 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday there had been at least 650 crashes throughout the state and nearly 2,500 calls for assistance. Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) issued a statement following reports of the massive and deadly pileup, warning as Purpura had that Ohioans should remain at home until conditions improve.

“Our sympathy goes to those families who have lost a loved one during this severe weather situation in Ohio. Thus far, four Ohioans have died and many more have been injured as a result of weather-related auto accidents,” he explained. “The road conditions continue to be very dangerous across the state, with white outs and extremely cold temperatures continuing. Please continue to remain home if at all possible and be vigilant with these extremely dangerous road conditions.”

Emergency crews working throughout the day had reportedly managed to reopen westbound traffic before 11 p.m. but efforts to clear the reported 15 commercial vehicles left work on the eastbound side continuing into the night.

The damage from Elliot was hardly isolated to the Ohio Turnpike as at least 11 fatalities had been attributed to weather-related car crashes alone across the country since Tuesday, according to the Weather Channel. In addition to icy roadways, coastal flooding had also been reported in the Northeast, power outages were widespread, and thousands of flights had been canceled only two days before Christmas.


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Kevin Haggerty


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