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Unfortunate left turns kill 3 motorcyclists

Occurred in April and May

A fatal motor vehicle crash April 15 in Austintown and a double-fatal motor vehicle crash May 30 in Berlin Center are among the six fatal Mahoning County crashes so far this year that involved motorcycles.

The six motorcycle-involved fatal crashes are higher than the four crashes recorded in all of 2021 in Mahoning County, said Sgt. Brian Holt of the Canfield Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

But it’s not just motorcycle-involved crashes. In fact, 21 people have died so far in 2022 in the county in 19 motor vehicle crashes of all kinds, compared to 21 people being killed in 21 crashes in all of 2021.

“I don’t know why there is a spike,” Holt said Friday of the increase in fatal motor-vehicle crashes. One thing he knows is that May was “a terrible month” for fatal crashes in Mahoning County with eight. They took place in Youngstown, and the townships of Austintown, Boardman, Milton and Berlin. The highway patrol handles most of the fatal crashes in the county, but Youngstown handles its own.

He said of the four motorcycle-related fatalities in 2021, the motorcyclist was at fault three times. “This year it is 50 percent (3 of 6),” he said.

In four of the six motorcycle-related fatal crashes so far this year, the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet, he added.

AUSTINTOWN FATAL

A Liberty woman was charged recently in the April 15 motorcycle-involved crash, which took place on state Route 46 at Interstate 80 in Austintown. Investigators secured a surveillance video showing the crash.

Angelica Burns, 26, of Fifth Avenue, pleaded not guilty last week to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter during her arraignment in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown. The crash killed Stephen L. Paynter, 54, of Austintown.

Burns was traveling south on Route 46 and entered the left-turning lane to make a left turn onto the Interstate 80 eastbound onramp, the patrol states in a crash report. It was 4:39 p.m.

Paynter was northbound on Route 46 on his 2007 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle in the left through lane, apparently intending to proceed north through the intersection with the right of way.

As the vehicles approached the intersection, Burns “initially stopped prior to making (her) left turn to wait for a small sedan that was traveling northbound in the right lane of (Route) 46,” the report states. “”However, after the sedan passed, (Burns) committed to its left turn” and continued into the turn after observing the motorcycle approaching.

“The video shows (Burns) making (her) turn and pulling in front of (Paynter),” the report states. Burns “stated to seeing (Paynter) just before impact and attempted to rapidly accelerate in an attempt to clear the intersection.”

Paynter “attempted to rapidly stop, as tire skids were located on the roadway, and visible smoke can be (seen) emitting from the motorcycle tires in the video,” the report continues. Paynter “was unable to stop in time and struck the rear right side of (Burns’ Chevrolet Equinox) within the intersection.”

The report states: “After impact, (Paynter) was ejected off the motorcycle and landed upon the roadway. Burns stopped her car a short distance away.” Austintown emergency services personnel from a fire station nearby responded to the scene, but Paynter was pronounced dead at the scene.

He was not wearing a helmet. Burns was not wearing a seat belt. Paynter’s death was ruled accidental, the result of blunt force injuries caused by the crash, according to his autopsy report and death certificate.

The video shows that traffic signals were working and showing “solid green,” according to the report. “This means (Paynter) had the right of way and (Burns) failed to yield when it made its left turn,” the report states.

Paynter was born in Maryland, lived in the Youngstown area since 1992 and worked 12 years as shop foreman for Banner Supply, according to his obituary. “He enjoyed the outdoors and riding his motorcycle,” his obituary states.

He loved music, especially contemporary Christian music and “sang a song to his wife at their wedding.” The couple has three children.

The crash report states that it was 65 degrees that day with good visibility. Burns was not injured.

Burns returns to court for her second hearing at 3 p.m. Sept. 12. If convicted, she could get up to 90 days in jail.

BERLIN CENTER FATALS

Six weeks later, on May 30, a couple from Windham, Joseph and Christie Olson, were killed in a similar crash on U.S. Route 224 at Bedell Road in Berlin Center on the western edge of Mahoning County near Berlin Lake. Joseph was 62, and Christie was 60.

According to a highway patrol crash report, a 17-year-old Deerfield teen was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, and the Olsons were riding a 2012 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic motorcycle.

The Olsons were traveling east on Route 224, and the the teen was traveling west on 224. The driver of the pickup truck “failed to yield making the left turn (at Bedell Road), causing (the motorcycle) to overturn and strike” the juvenile’s truck, the report states.

When troopers with the state patrol arrived, Joseph Olson was on the ground near the front right side of the truck, and the juvenile was on his cellphone next to the driver’s side door uninjured. Joseph Olson died at the scene.

Christie Olson had apparently already been removed from the scene by ambulance personnel. They both were wearing helmets.

The juvenile advised a trooper that his parents were on their way to the scene, and “he did not want to answer any questions until they arrived.”

A witness told troopers she was traveling behind the pickup truck, which she said “started to make a left turn onto Bedell, then stopped. Then the truck started to go again, and it struck (the motorcycle) that was traveling in the opposite direction.” A highway patrol reconstructionist came to the scene to investigate.

Another witness, who was on Bedell Road, stopped at the intersection. She told troopers she saw the truck turn left onto Bedell and strike the motorcycle. The witness “stated it looked like the motorcycle started to slide prior to the truck making the left turn,” the report states.

Troopers took the juvenile to the highway patrol barracks in Canfield, where he told troopers he “did have his (sun) visor down in the truck due to the sun, but it was not blocking his view.”

The teen said “he did not see the motorcycle coming towards him. (He) stated he stopped due to to traffic, and once the vehicles had passed him, that is when he started to make the turn and the crash occurred.” The driver recently turned 18.

Route 224 is 55 miles per hour in that area, and there is a “small curve in the road prior to Bedell Road approximately 457 feet east of the crash location,” the report states. “There is also a small curve in the roadway 369 feet after Bedell Road west of the crash location, and no view obstructions on the sides of the road,” the report states.

The temperature was 85 degrees, and visibility was good.

The report states that Christie Olson’s injuries were serious, and she was taken to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. She died died May 31.

Troopers secured surveillance video of the crash from the TNT Drive-thru on Bedell Road, the report states.

Joseph Olson’s death was ruled accidental, the result of multiple blunt force trauma because of the crash, according to court documents.

The obituary for the Olsons stated that Joe was born in Warren, and Christie was born in Washington, Pa. Both were Windham High School graduates. They have three children. Joe was superintendent of Hummel Construction in Ravenna, and Christie was retired as a house coordinator for Coleman Professional Services.

“They enjoyed their Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and the adventures it took them on,” the obituary states.

erunyan@vindy.com

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