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‘Contributing circumstances’



Published: Tue, April 13, 2010 @ 12:16 a.m.

By ED RUNYAN

runyan@vindy.com

LEAVITTSBURG

Crash Report

OSHP Crash Report (PDF)

photo

The accident report for a March 31 crash on state Route 5 in Warren Township that killed three Trumbull County Marine Corps recruits says one reason it occurred is that truck driver Donald Williams Jr. of Austintown failed to stay a proper distance back from the recruiter’s vehicle.

The 33-page Ohio State Highway Patrol report released Monday does not include statements from any of the witnesses to the accident, but it does contain a checked box indicating that following too closely and/or failing to maintain a proper distance were “contributing circumstances.”

It says there was no odor of alcoholic beverages coming from Williams or his vehicle, but investigators list drug use as “unknown” because of “the grogginess of the driver and the limited contact with him because of his injuries,” the report said.

Investigators talked to Williams, 44, of Bainbridge Avenue in Austintown, a second time at St. Joseph Health Center in Warren, where he “again appeared to be disoriented.”

After being read his rights and told that all drivers were being asked to consent to a blood test, Williams consented to having blood drawn for the test but “did not want to give a witness statement for the crash,” the report said.

Williams did answer a couple of written questions, but refused to sign the statement form on which the answers were given, the highway patrol said.

“It is unknown what, if any, drugs [Williams] was given at the hospital,” the trooper reported. “Alcohol/drug use, if any, will be determined by the toxicology results,” the report said.

The report does not say what investigators think led to the crash.

Dennis Watkins, Trumbull County prosecutor, said his office is working closely with the highway patrol and will eventually ask a Trumbull County grand jury — probably within the next four weeks — to determine what charges, if any, will be filed in the case.

The crash killed Zachary A. Nolen, 19, of Mineral Ridge and Newton Falls, Joshua A. Sherbourne, 21, of Southington and Michael T. Theodore Jr., 19, of Howland.

All three were in the back seat of a Pontiac G6 driven by Marine Sgt. Charles W. Kenne, 25, of Youngstown that was on its way to Cleveland so that the three and a fourth recruit could complete their enlistment in the Marines.

Williams, Kenne and recruit Carl W. McDermott III, 19, of Masury, who was in the front seat, were injured but released from the hospital. Occupants of the six other vehicles received lesser injuries.

A dash camera inside the International semi tractor Williams was driving shows the crash, the report says, but the report mentions only one thing about the video: It shows the lit brake lights on the recruiter’s vehicle just before the crash.

A spokesman for the patrol in Columbus said the video will be made public as soon as troopers complete a traffic reconstruction, which gives a more-detailed description of what investigators believe happened during the crash.

The report says four westbound cars were stopped at the traffic light at Burnett Road, including the recruiter’s car, when the collision occurred.


Comments

1majick(34 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

I agree that there's alot of bullying truckers out there, but there are also good truck drivers too, who have to put up with idiots in private vehicles.

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2peanuts1(4 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Finds this picture of an accident that happened 2 weeks ago horrid. Let these stop pouring salt in the wounds of these families.

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3DragonFly664(198 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

you are correct Majick, I live with a GOOD truck driver that is constantly on high alert for some 4 wheelers that think they own the road, pull out in front of him, try to cut him off. It is NOT just the truck drivers at fault.

You are correct about putting this to rest and stop showing the pictures, years ago when my brother was killed they keep showing the same pictures over and over again until someone called and asked them to please stop. The families are going through enough pain and suffering. They need to be left alone by the media.

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4Benjii(26 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Just a note. As a trucker, this person is subject to DOT regulations. One of those is mandatory drug testing in case of an accident. His blood was drawn at the hospital to fulfill this mandate, I'm sure. If he received any THERAPUDIC medications prior to arrival at the ED, this would be noted in the report. Sometimes EMS gives a medication that may come up on a drug screen, but that would be accounted for.

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5dominoman777(57 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

semper fi men

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6RobertH(50 comments)posted 4 years, 6 months ago

Don't be painting those of us with the same wide brush. Thats something we don't need to tolerate.

I drove a Bobtail. Our bobtails are medium duty trucks with tanks able to carry 2500+- gallons of LPG. Propane to you, Explosive to me.

I've had people tailgate me, pull out in front of me, pass me using the turn lane and with oncoming traffic, and my personal favorite, the vehicle that magically appears in front of me from my right (blind) side, usually using the berm, when the road goes from two lanes to one. I've had people pass me using the ditch.

And I was driving a bomb, something you could tell just by looking at it. Are you people crazy mad or what?

Now, that Williams plowed through the Marines and into the vehicles in front of the G6 tells me the Recruiter not moving with the rest of traffic made little difference.

But this sitting still at a green light illustrates how people think what happens *inside* the vehicle is far more important than anything thats happening *outside* the vehicle. Eating, drinking (coffee), shaving, texting, .... chatting up recruits .... all takes away from the most important task at hand. Driving.

I'm not saying this excuses Williams. I don't know of anything short of having a stroke which could do that.

I can't help but wonder if, well, the Recruiter had been charged with and taken on the responsibility of 4 others lives, and had he taken this responsibility seriously and been paying attention to his task, and watching his mirrors, he may have noticed a traction engine barreling up his ass and may have been able to take evasive action.

So I see a possible conspiracy of events leading to a tragedy. Williams and whatever was going on with him, and another driver not paying attention.

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