***Previously aired video above shows police dashcam when responding to the scene***
ERIE COUNTY, Ohio (WJW) – A plow driver officials say was involved in an incident on the Ohio Turnpike that damaged more than 50 vehicles has been fired.
Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, served a letter Tuesday to the snowplow operator.
The letter stated, in part:
“Notice is hereby given that the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission is terminating your employment effective immediately. Your employment is being terminated for an egregious Chargeable Accident on January 23, 2022, while engaging in grossly negligent behavior as to endanger life, property, public safety or otherwise cause the Commission to be liable for damage. Further, you failed to responsibly perform duties that are within the proper scope of your position as a Maintenance Worker Class II Roadway employee.”
Turnpike officials say the plow driver was represented by a steward from Teamsters Local 436. A pre-disciplinary hearing was held on Feb. 4.
Turnpike officials, along with troopers from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, say the plow driver on Jan. 23 was travelling westbound beginning near milepost 117, close to the State Route 250 interchange, in Erie County, plowing snow, ice and slush over the median divider wall onto oncoming traffic.
About 55 vehicles were damaged and 18 individuals sustained non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“This was an isolated incident involving a single snowplow operator,” Ferzan said. “It is not representative of our employees or our operations.”
As of Feb. 8, 51 vehicle owners have filed property damage claims with the turnpike commission.
Affected vehicle owners who require assistance related to the snowplow incident can contact the turnpike’s customer service center at (440) 971-2222.
So far, no criminal charges have been filed. The state patrol investigated the matter and sent their findings to the Erie County prosecutor’s office to determine if any criminal charges should be filed. The prosecutor’s office is still reviewing the matter.