By Rick Rouan
The state patrol does not believe weather was a factor in the crash.
AUSTINTOWN — A Girard police dispatcher died early Wednesday when the car he was driving crashed into the back of an Ohio Department of Transportation salt truck on Interstate 80.
Thomas Zuppo, 47, of Girard, worked as a dispatcher for the city for 11 years, according to a release from the Girard Police Department.
Zuppo was driving a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix east on Interstate 80 at “a high rate of speed” just after midnight when he rear- ended the salt truck, according to a release from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
The car was lodged under the salt truck and caught on fire, according to the release.
A 42-year-old Boardman man who was driving the salt truck was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center to be treated for minor injuries, said patrol Sgt. Nakia Hendrix. Zuppo was pronounced dead at the scene.
The department does not believe weather was a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation, Hendrix said.
“Right now it really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Girard Police Chief Jeff Palmer said.
Zuppo began as a part-time dispatcher for the city of Girard in August 1998 and was promoted to his post as a full-time dispatcher in May 2003. Palmer said that Zuppo worked the afternoon shift but that Tuesday was his day off from work.
“Obviously, he was well-liked by everyone here,” Palmer said.
Zuppo’s father retired from the Girard Police Department in 2003 after 35 years on the job
He is survived by his wife, stepchildren and grandchildren, according to the department.
“Dispatcher Zuppo was an integral part of the department and a friend to all that work here,” according to the release. “Tom Zuppo will be sadly missed, and our departments’ thoughts and prayers go out to the family members he has left behind.”