(WJW) — One of the four people killed in a massive pileup along the Ohio Turnpike on Friday, Dec. 23, was a 37-year-old Toledo woman expecting a child.
Three of the victims were identified over the weekend by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the identity of the fourth victim was released Tuesday:
Julie Roth’s two other children who were in the car survived, but were stuck in the cold weather waiting to be rescued and hospitalized for their injuries, according to her relatives.
But Roth and her unborn child did not survive — “a devastating loss,” her brother-in-law, Chris Roth, said in a GoFundMe campaign set up to help the family.
As of Tuesday, the GoFundMe had raised more than $71,000 from nearly 1,000 donors in two days, to pay for funeral expenses and to help Roth’s husband “adjust to the loss of his wife and unborn child.”
Roth was a travel nurse contracted to work at Cleveland Clinic, a clinic spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
“Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” the spokesperson said.
Emma Smith, of Michigan, graduated high school in 2021 and was attending college, The Detroit News reported Monday.
“It is hard for me to find the words to say that our sweet daughter, Emma Smith left this world on Friday December 23,” her father Matthew wrote in a Monday Facebook post, asking family and friends to share stories about the woman.
Smith’s aunt Teresa Ayers, who is organizing a fundraiser for the family, said Smith and her boyfriend were headed to a Christmas gathering on Friday.
“Em was a little ray of sunshine to our family,” she wrote. “She was an only child. She was smart and kind. She was a huge lover of nature and animals. Boy, did she love her kitties.
“Her life was just beginning. As her grandmother said to me yesterday, ‘Emma is a beautiful bud, that never got to bloom — because she was tragically taken from us too soon.'”
As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 150 donors had raised nearly $7,500. The family wants to establish a band scholarship in honor of Smith, who was in her high school’s marching band.
The crashes happened Friday afternoon along Interstate 80 eastbound between Route 53 and State Route 4 in Sandusky County, amid a blizzard that caused whiteout conditions. At least 46 cars were involved, including 15 commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers, according to the patrol. Buses transported people from the scene to a local facility to get warm.
The portion of the turnpike was not reopened until Saturday afternoon, according to the patrol.