BRIMFIELD, Ohio - Ethan Collins, 21 of New London, remains hospitalized in Akron unable to move his extremities with the exception of limited movement in one arm following what may be one of the most random and unpredictable of crashes troopers have ever seen.
Collins was pulling a flatbed trailer with a pickup truck on Interstate 76 late Saturday when a massive tree crashed onto the highway right on top of his truck.
The tree crushed his truck, sending it off the highway into a median, where rescuers had to free him from the wreckage.
Troopers say it is likely he never saw the tree falling at all until he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"The best would have been was that you could have seen the tree and be able to have enough time to stop prior to hitting the tree or being struck by the tree. I believe the witness that saw the tree fall just barely saw it out of the corner of his eye fall on top of the vehicle right in front of him. Our belief right now is that the driver of that pickup truck never even seen the tree falling," said Ohio State Highway Patrol Lieutenant Antonio Matos.
The stretch of I-76 between Youngstown and Akron is lined with trees, many of which seem to be already dead or diseased.
ODOT Spokesman Matt Bruning tells Fox 8 News, "The agency removes or trims thousands of trees that are believed to be in danger of falling onto the highway, but there are times when contributing factors, including weather, can contribute to incidents that are completely unpredictable."
It is impossible to determine to what extent all of the recent wind and rain played in contributing to Saturday's crash.
Troopers say Collins was obeying all of the rules of the road and did nothing to contribute to the incident and admit that a tree falling onto the Interstate is such a rare event that it is not something for which Collins, or any other driver, might ordinarily have been looking.
"There's some places that I can think of at the top of my head like Interstate 77 down south where there are signs posted be careful of the falling rocks. It is very unfortunate that we have to be aware of all of these types of issues on the roadways and we try to be prepared as best as we can in this case it appears this person was doing all the right things and again just the wrong place at the wrong time ," said Matos.