Wrong Way Driver Creates Close Call

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OXFORD TWP., Ohio -- An Ohio state trooper miraculously escaped serious injury when a car going the wrong way on the Ohio Turnpike slammed into his cruiser.

Around 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday, trooper Mike Ziehr tried to intercept a pickup truck going eastbound in the westbound lanes of the turnpike in Erie County's Oxford Twp., but the pickup did not stop and sideswiped the cruiser.

The crash was also recorded by a second trooper's camera.

"When you see headlights coming at you, you get scared, you want to get out of the way, you're afraid that you might get struck or hurt.  In this case, he did get struck.  Luckily, he wasn't hurt too bad," said Sgt. Matt Davis.

Investigators said the wrong way driver had travelled at least four miles on the turnpike at the time of the crash.

"Most people, when they see flashing lights on a cruiser, what are they gonna do? They're gonna slow down, pull off the road to the right," Davis said.

But investigators said this driver went another 14 miles before troopers deflated his tires using stop sticks.  The pickup eventually stopped and the driver was arrested.

"This guy was impaired, that's probably the reason why he was driving the wrong way down the road," said Davis.

Troopers arrested Joseph Kozar, 67, of Amherst.  They charged him with vehicular assault, OVI, leaving the scene of a crash and reckless operation.

Kozar did not want to comment when Fox 8 stopped by his home.

"The number one thing that kills troopers in Ohio is traffic crashes, and so it's always in the top of our mind, in the forefront of our minds.  All the time when we're patrolling," explained Sgt. Davis.

Neither Trooper Ziehr nor Kozar was injured, and no other cars were involved.

Sgt. Davis reminded drivers that troopers will be out in force on Labor Day weekend to ensure similar incidents like this don’t happen again.