Man who witnessed fiery crash on I-271 says good Samaritans jumped into action

WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio-- Witnesses of Monday’s explosive and fiery crash on I-271 South are counting their blessings and praying for the victims.

The terrifying accident happened during the heart of rush hour traffic near Richmond Road in Warrensville Heights.

A semi-truck collided with another vehicle that was burned beyond recognition.

“Immediately I knew something was wrong because traffic came to a halt,” said Jeffrie Smolinski, who was heading home from work at the time. “Then out of nowhere, there was this black smoke, so much heat and so much smoke.”

Smolinski was a couple lanes away from the accident, and unable to get over to the scene, but says he saw good Samaritans spring into action.

“I did see people pulling people away,” said Smolinski.

Police, firefighters and EMS crews from Warrensville Heights and multiple neighboring cities including Beachwood rushed to the scene which Jeffrie says was extremely volatile.

He witnessed and recorded two explosions on his cellphone.

First, there was a smaller flash and then a much larger blast.

“The explosion was so powerful I literally saw the truck lift a little and fall to the ground,” said Smolinski, “I mean you felt it in your chest pretty bad; it was very strong.”

Southbound traffic remained closed in all lanes for hours and was slowed to a crawl along nearly all side streets and exits within a 10-mile radius.

But Monday night, all Jeffrie was thinking about were the victims inside and hoping they’re okay.