ODOT video shows blinding conditions causing chain-reaction crashes on Summit County highway

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HUDSON, Ohio (WJW) - New video released to FOX 8 shows blinding conditions during Tuesday's snowstorm that led to a series of chain-reaction crashes on a local highway.

Ken Fanger says he was driving south on Rt. 8 heading to Akron Tuesday morning to work with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Summit, Medina and Stark Counties when traffic in front of him started to slow.

"There was some type of blockage on the highway - on Route 8 - so people were starting to stop. So, I stopped my car and was sitting and waiting to move," said Fanger.

Fanger described whiteout conditions and said he was attempting to drive as carefully as possible when he was first hit from behind.

"I stopped my car and was sitting, waiting till it started to move, when I heard my first bang on the back of my car and that started to shift me. Then, the second car came and hit me completely on the side and threw me across the highway," said Fanger.

On Wednesday, the Ohio Department of Transportation released time-lapse video from their stationary cameras on the highway that shows the blinding conditions at the time. These conditions lasted well over ten minutes.

When the visibility improved, the southbound lanes were cluttered with more than 40 damaged vehicles and an additional 45 stuck on the highway between multiple chain-reaction crashes.

"What we see the traffic camera really doesn't show that road conditions or driver behavior really had a lot to do with this; it literally was just a whiteout. You could have been driving with a blindfold on and had the same results," said Matt Bruning of ODOT.

Fanger said he did not even realize the magnitude of the crash scene at first.

"After I first was hit and spun around I started to see all the traffic coming at me and, I have to admit, I was scared that I was going to get hit two or three more times. And, then I started seeing the cars piling up behind us," said Fanger.

The same conditions contributed to additional chain-reaction collisions in the Rt. 8 northbound lanes about a half a mile to the south and additional collisions in Stow.

The stretch of Rt. 8 through Hudson and Stow is maintained by the communities under an agreement with the department of transportation.  Both municipalities say they were out treating the roads and Stow says the highway was clean down to the pavement at the time of the collisions.

The area is also narrowed because of construction, but ODOT says the whiteout is mostly to blame for the collisions.

"Slow down. Put your hazard lights on. Make sure your headlignts are on. Try to be as visible as possible. But when you stop, that's the problem. Somebody stops or somebody gets involved in a crash and has to stop, then you know the people coming in behind you on the highway don't know you are stopped and they run right into you," said Bruning.

Fanger said he now knows firsthand how even when you are being careful you might still be hit by someone else under those conditions.

"Even with all of that you can still get hit. And then, don't get out of the car when you first get hit because when that started to happen a lot of other cars started to get hit. You can get hit again," he explained.

More winter weather stories, here.

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