Driver marvels at near-miss
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
HOWLAND -- Deanna M. Teter-Maynard has been thanking God that she and her three children weren't killed in a fiery crash at a dangerous Howland intersection.
"Thank God we walked away. It could have easily been four others that were killed," the 41-year-old Teter-Maynard said Tuesday.
The Monday afternoon crash at state Route 82 and Howland Wilson Road resulted in the death of a truck driver, Michael A. Loparo, 50, of Columbiana.
Loparo died even though five other motorists attempted to pull him out of the burning truck and douse the flames. The Trumbull County coroner's office said Loparo died of burns and ruled the death accidental.
Teter-Maynard said she was stopped eastbound in the far right lane on Route 82. In her car were her three children, Kandaze Bresnahan, 14; Kori Maynard, 10; and Dezeree Maynard, 8. They were returning to their home in Girard from Warren.
"I didn't hear a thing. I looked through my rear-view mirror, and it was there," she said of the eastbound tractor-trailer rig.
Truck hit car
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the truck veered off the south edge of the road and struck a light pole after hitting the back of the family's car.
Police at the scene told Teter-Maynard that her 2000 Buick Century was destroyed.
"I heard my son screaming," she said, noting the boy's scream allowed her to bring what was happening into perspective.
She said the truck immediately burst into flames; its gas tanks had ruptured. She and her children got out of the car uninjured.
"It was impressive that nobody was hurt in the car. She must have an angel on her shoulder," said Paul Monroe, Howland police chief.
The chief said he knows that Loparo intentionally veered off the road in an attempt to avoid the crash.
The intersection has been the scene of many accidents. The Ohio Department of Transportation has been working on a safety upgrade there since last summer.
Status of road work
Jennifer Richmond, an ODOT spokeswoman, said the widening of Route 82 at the intersection has been completed and new traffic signals were scheduled for installation later this month.
This construction season, she explained, Howland Wilson will be widened at Route 82 and skid-resistent asphalt put down.
ODOT has closed Howland Wilson until the end of the week to install the new traffic signal, to replace the one damaged in the crash. Route 82 will remain open.
The closing makes the intersection safe, said patrol's Sgt. Mike Harmon. "I like it the way it is now, and that's closed," he said Tuesday.
"Maybe we need to take a look at it," Harmon said, noting it's a situation where an interstate-type road has a traffic light on it.
Harmon said he couldn't say the intersection was a factor in Monday's accident.
The patrol determined that a check of the truck found it could have stopped. The coroner's office hasn't determined if Loparo may have suffered a medical condition that prevented him from stopping his truck.