Stretch of I-76 proves to be dangerous with several serious crashes

JACKSON TWP., Ohio (WYTV) – A seven-mile stretch of Interstate 76 in Jackson Township has been a most dangerous area the past few months. Troopers say drivers are not paying attention in construction zones, resulting in rear-end crashes, multi-vehicle accidents, and even one death.

The most recent was Sunday night.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, a truck driver from Ellwood City failed to see the traffic backed up from the closure of the interstate’s right lane. It started a chain reaction crash that ended with nine vehicles littering the freeway and seven people hospitalized — all now in stable condition.

Sgt. Erik Golias was one of the troopers on the scene.

“What we’re finding a lot of the problem being is driver distraction,” he said.

An hour and a half later, with the cars behind the accident still lined up, the driver of a small SUV crashed into a stopped semi. Four people in the SUV were hospitalized — two remain in critical condition.

“There is the proper signing and markage out on all the construction zones,” Golias said.

Along the very same stretch of I-76 three weeks ago, police said a truck driver again failed to see stopped traffic. In this crash, a New Castle sports announcer was killed.

In early May — same area, same thing. Stopped traffic that the driver of a semi didn’t see.

Many of the accidents have occurred in construction zones where two lanes of traffic quickly merge into one and the speed limit just as quickly goes from 70 to 50.

“The slightest distraction at 70 miles per hour can cover a lot of ground without you noticing what’s on the road or in the road in front of you,” Golias said.

He said it’s still too early to say if any charges will be filed in connection with the accidents. With so many vehicles involved, it’ll take a while to sort it all out.