Three dead in 46-car pileup during Ohio winter storm

A 46-car pileup in Ohio left four people dead and multiple others injured Friday afternoon during whiteout conditions from a winter storm moving across the country. 

The pileup occurred on Interstate 80 eastbound between Route 53 and State Route 4 in Sandusky County, near Groton Township and the Erie County line, local Fox8 affiliate reported.

Many of those involved in the crashes were taken to a nearby facility because of the extremely cold temperatures during the storm.

Stark reminder

“This is a stark reminder of what can happen when you get behind the wheel and try to drive in bad weather conditions,” patrol Sgt. Ryan Purpura said in an update on the crash Friday night.

His advice to drivers: avoid being on the roads if possible, and if you must drive, “take some precautions: take it slow, be patient, increase your following distance, and always buckle up.”

“Be safe, Ohio,” he added.

It is typically a busy time on the roads with holiday travel and last-minute shopping, but the massive winter storm may put a damper on that for many people across the country.

Governor DeWine’s statement

Governor Mike DeWine tweeted a statement of sympathy for those who died or were injured in the crashes, along with a word of caution.

“Our sympathy goes out to those families who have lost a loved one during this severe weather condition in Ohio,” he said. “The road conditions continue to be very dangerous across the state, with whiteouts and extremely cold temperatures continuing. Please continue to remain at home if at all possible and be vigilant with these extremely dangerous road conditions.”

The road remained closed until 11:25 p.m. on Friday, when westbound lanes were reopened. Eastbound lanes were still closed at that time, and emergency crews were still removing vehicles from the road, including 15 commercial vehicles.

Snow emergency

The county had declared a level 3 snow emergency on Friday.

As traffic was diverted away from the area of the pileup, it led to other crashes in Erie County, according to reports.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth described “individuals unfamiliar with our roads, and with limited visibility, we have people getting stuck in drifts. They’re trying to find their way home, but unfortunately, with the turnpike closed, they’re having difficulty trying to get to their destination.”