Early morning fog was the likely culprit in a 14-vehicle crash at the intersection of Paulding County Rd. 87 and U.S. 24 Tuesday morning. Paulding resident Ashley A. Messmann was killed in the crash, and nine others were taken to hospitals for injuries. U.S. 24 remained closed at press time while the crews cleaned up the ethanol spilled by one of the tractor-trailers involved in the crash. (Paulding County Progress/Melinda Krick)
BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
CECIL - A Paulding woman is dead after pulling out in front of a tractor-trailer at a foggy Paulding County intersection, triggering seven more crashes.
Around 8 a.m. Tuesday, Ashley A. Messmann, 28, Paulding tried to cross U.S. 24 at Paulding County Rd. 87. She drove her 2000 Chevrolet Blazer northbound through the intersection, but was struck by a 2007 Volvo semi pulling a tanker with approximately 1,500 gallons of 97 percent ethanol liquid. The tanker ruptured in the crash and the ethanol leaked into the median. The driver of the truck was Dale D. Janssens, 41, Monroe, Michigan.After the initial crash, seven more crashed occurred as vehicles in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of U.S. 24 tried to avoid the wreckage. In those seven related crashes, nine people were taken to numerous hospitals for treatment on non-life threatening injuries. Messmann was pronounced dead at the scene by the Paulding County coroner.
According to the OSHP, the ethanol spill presented no immediate threat to the local community and was contained by crews from several fire departments and the E.P.A.
In all, 14 vehicles were involved in the crash - 11 commercial vehicles, two passenger cars, and a pickup truck hauling excavating equipment. The area was covered by a thick fog at the time of the wreck. Visibility at the time was reported to be less than 100 feet.
Both eastbound and westbound lanes of U.S. 24 remained closed into the evening hours Tuesday as crews continued to work cleaning up the ethanol spill.
The Highway Patrol was assisted on scene by Paulding County Sheriff's Department, multiple fire and E.M.S. departments, Paulding and Defiance County's Emergency Management Agency, Ohio Department of Transportation, the Red Cross and the E.P.A.
Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash and seat belt use is not known at this time. The crash remains under investigation.
Red Cross representatives from Paulding, Defiance and Van Wert counties were on scene to help responders and motorists stranded in traffic. McDonald's in Paulding donated 110 sandwiches, Paulding VFW donated coffee, and Chief Supermarket provided water.