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'This has to stop:' ODOT issues plea after 82nd crew hit in 2022

Crash, explosion sends 2 drivers to hospital with serious injuries
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Posted at 8:57 AM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 18:19:42-04

GREEN, Ohio — An ODOT worker is recovering from serious injuries and another driver suffered life-threatening injuries after a fiery crash on I-77 in Summit County early Thursday. Highway cameras captured the dramatic explosion after a dump truck veered onto the right shoulder and rear-ended a stopped ODOT truck.

The crash happened at approximately 7:20 a.m. on I-77 near Graybill Road in the city of Green. That's where a dump truck struck an ODOT vehicle, causing an explosion. Both vehicles caught fire. I-77 was backed up to Route 30 in Stark County.

“It was horrific to see that crash. And to think that he survived this… someone was clearly looking over him,” said ODOT District 4 Deputy Director Gery Noirot.

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Noirot explained the highway worker was on his way to pick a piece of machinery when he pulled over on the interstate near Graybill Rd to clean up some trash.

“Here’s a guy doing his job, going above and beyond,” Noirot said.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what caused the dump truck to drive out of its lane. A half dozen passing cars pulled over to help in the aftermath. Sheriff’s deputies pulled both drivers out of the burning vehicles and they were rushed to the hospital.

The image below shows what is left of the ODOT truck after it was struck by a dump truck.

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Remnants of an ODOT truck that was struck by a dump truck.

“You get that call, you get a knot in your stomach - even right now,” Noirot said of hearing one of his workers was hit. “You just look at things and wonder what we can do better as an entity, as a traveling public.”

The Thursday morning crash was the 82nd time an ODOT crew has been hit on the job in 2022. The figure is on pace to eclipse the 154 incidents in 2021.

“How do we get out in front of these things? Is it more signage? Is it putting more speed trailers out there?” Noirot asked.

The deputy director issued a plea to drivers to pay attention to the road, avoid speeding and distractions and give highway workers space to work.

“This has to stop,” he said.

Noirot said the worker involved in the crash had been with the department for a decade. The man’s family was able to speak with him in the hospital. The extent of his injuries is unclear.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office plans to release more information as the crash investigation continues.

This story is developing and more information will be included in the story once it becomes available.

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