(WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found a massive, deadly pile-up on the Ohio Turnpike Christmas weekend involved vehicles that had been banned from the Turnpike that day due to severe weather.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol has now determined two vehicles involved should not have been on the Turnpike.
We asked Sgt. Ryan Purpura if there’s any way to know what role that played in what happened.
“Well, it’s something that, obviously, we’re going to look at. We’re looking at every vehicle involved. We’ve interviewed most drivers, if not all the drivers,” Sgt. Purpura said.
He added that troopers are still investigating the crash.
It involved a total of 51 vehicles, including everything from small cars to big rigs. Four people died. Among them was a man from Cleveland.
A report shows, so far, troopers haven’t found evidence to blame any one person.
The travel ban said, on that day, drivers could not use the Turnpike with double- and triple-trailer trucks, trucks carrying empty trailers and more.
Meanwhile, we asked how a travel ban like that is enforced.
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission would not provide anyone to answer questions for the I-Team.
Instead, the commission issued a statement that, in part, referred to the role of workers at toll booths.
“It is the protocol of toll operations to deny entry of banned vehicles and contact the Ohio State Highway Patrol for enforcement, if needed,” the statement said.
Yet, these days, many drivers breeze through toll booths using electronic passes, the E-ZPass.
The highway patrol says, Christmas weekend, troopers did not ticket any drivers who shouldn’t have been on the Turnpike, and they didn’t escort any off the road.
Consider, though, that troopers scrambled to dozens of crashes. They handled 177 calls for help from drivers stranded or in vehicles that had broken down.
Back to the pile-up, a little more of the mystery has been unraveled. Now, we know two banned vehicles were caught up in it, but how much did that matter?
Eventually, troopers will have a prosecutor review the investigation.
“They’ll take a look at everything, the entirety of the circumstances, and we’ll proceed from there,” Sgt. Purpura said.
There’s no telling how much longer that investigation could go. We will follow it and report on the final conclusions.