SANDUSKY — The Erie County Prosecutor’s Office will not be filing charges relating to the fatal crash on the Ohio Turnpike in December.
Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said the accident was caused by an “act of God” and not negligence so there is no liability.
“Here, the winter storm conditions on the day of the Dec. 23, 2022 Ohio Turnpike accident were an ‘Act of God’ or Nature that was so unusual and overwhelming that it was likely a major contributing factor in the pileup,” Baxter wrote in a press release. “The strong winds and severe and blowing snow resulted in whiteout conditions with low visibility. The slowing traffic for diminished visibility and road conditions were likely strong enough to cause the pileup by their own power, independently of potential negligence by individual drivers.
“The interests of justice would, therefore, not be served by prosecuting individuals involved in the accident.”
Four people and one unborn child died during the pileup that occurred in the eastbound lanes near Mile Marker 106.
The initial crashes in the pileup began around 12:30 p.m. and ended at approximately 12:36 p.m.
According to the National Weather Service Cleveland, at 11:51 a.m., just before the crash, the temperature was -4 degrees Fahrenheit, with sustained wind speeds of 36.8 mph and gusts up to 48.3 mph, and there was “heavy snow” and “snow blowing” resulting in visibility of 0.12 miles.
The Ohio State Patrol Crash Reconstruction and Analysis Unit further noted that when the crash occurred, the weather was “severe and blowing snow had caused whiteout conditions.” Based on dash cam footage, the Ohio State Patrol found that the first impact in the crash “was due to the traffic slowing for diminished visibility from blowing snow” and “the sudden change in visibility and the road conditions appear to be a major contributing factor in this crash.”