A 70-year-old Lowellville woman and a 21-year-old Pittsburgh man were in critical condition in St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown and three other people were being treated there Saturday night for serious injuries after a two-car, head-on crash Saturday afternoon on U.S. Route 224 in Poland Township, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Critically injured in the 2:20 p.m. crash between Struthers and Quarry roads were Theresa Secrest, who was driving east in a 2006 Cadillac, and Anthony Lopez, who was driving a westbound 2004 Oldsmobile Alero.
Seriously injured were three passengers in the Alero: Heather Michaels, of Pittsburgh, and Jarrot Moore, of New Castle, both 20, and a 16-year-old girl the patrol did not identify because she is a juvenile.
Lopez was trying to pass another vehicle when the crash occurred, the patrol said.
Lopez’ speed and improper passing caused the crash, said Trooper Steve Murphy of the patrol’s Canfield post, who is investigating the crash. Witnesses said Lopez exceeded the 55 mph limit; but Murphy said he believes Secrest did not exceed it. Murphy said he hopes to retrieve from the black boxes of both cars their actual speeds at the time of the crash.
David “Chip” Comstock, chief of the Western Reserve Joint Fire District, said a paramedic told him it was one of the worst crashes he had ever seen in terms of difficulty of extrication of victims from both cars.
“It was a very difficult removal process,” because the victims were trapped in twisted metal in the heavily damaged cars, Comstock said.
He added that firefighters had to use multiple hydraulic rescue tools, known as Jaws of Life.
Medical helicopters removed Secrest and Lopez from the scene, and the others were transported by ambulance.
U.S. Route 224, a narrow two-lane road in that area, had to be closed after the accident, while firefighters were on the scene for more than one hour.
Poland Township police detoured traffic around the accident scene while the state patrol investigated the crash, said Brian Gooden, township police chief.
Firefighters from the Western Reserve Joint Fire District, which serves Poland Township and Village, were assisted at the scene Lowellville and Springfield Township fire companies.
That stretch of Route 224, which is known as Center Road, is straight, but the terrain is slightly rolling.
There were no adverse weather conditions on Saturday. The vehicles came to rest in a front yard at 5091 Center Road after the crash.
Initial reports erroneously put the crash at Stymie Road near the Pennsylvania-Ohio line, Comstock said.