NORTH JACKSON, Ohio (WYTV) – Stopped traffic caused chain-reaction crashes on the I-76 eastbound lanes in Jackson Township on Sunday evening.
The first was a nine-vehicle crash at I-76 and Bailey Road, near milepost 57.
The chain-reaction crash started when a semi truck struck the back of a 2012 Volkswagen Tauge, which was stopped in the area.
The semi truck was driven by Jacob Kummer, of Ellwood City, Pa. Kummer then hit the back of a Chevrolet van, driven by John Wilbert, of Petersburg.
The force of the crash pushed several vehicles into one another.
Those driving the other vehicles included Lanny Scaman of Shiloh, Antoinette Butera of Salem, Seth Pratt of Scranton, John Marhulik of Niles, and Tamika Jones of Youngstown.
Debris from the crash also struck a 2013 Chevrolet Captiva driven by Melanie Smith of Hubbard.
The semi truck came to rest in the median.
Taken to the hospital were David Duffy and Mary Duffy, Seth Pratt and Brooke Herman, John Marhulik and Nancy Marhulik and an 8-year-old passenger.
They had critical injuries.
The second was a two-vehicle crash at I-76 and State Route 534, near milepost 54. It involved a Honda Pilot and a Volvo tractor-trailer.
With traffic at a standstill from the nine-vehicle crash, a Honda Pilot carrying a woman and three girls from North Jackson returning from Tennessee rammed into the back of a tractor-trailer. The front half of the car got lodged under the tractor-trailer, according to Highway Patrol.
The Honda Pilot was driven by Justine Grosick of North Jackson, while the tractor-trailer was driven by Joseph Sano, Jr., of Uniontown.
Two back seat passengers from the Honda Pilot were taken via ambulance to St. Elizabeth Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while Grosick was flown by a medical helicopter there and is in critical condition. A third rear seat passenger was flown to Akron Children’s Hospital and is also in critical condition.
Sano was not injured.
“The biggest thing with crashes is distracted driving,” said Sgt. Erik Golias of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Canfield Post. “It only takes a split second to become distracted. That split second on a highway, while you’re traveling speeds of 70 miles per hour, can cover a lot of distance, and in that distance, you can run into stopped traffic obstacles in the roadway, other crashes.”
Jackson Township, Milton Township, Austintown and Lordstown fire and police departments responded to the crashes.
Interstate 76 eastbound was closed for several hours due to the crash.
Both crashes remain under investigation, and no charges have been filed. The Ohio State Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Section is assisting in this investigation.