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Four people dead, 46 vehicles involved in crash on Ohio Turnpike across Sandusky, Erie counties

All four of the victims have been identified by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

SANDUSKY COUNTY, Ohio — Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers, turnpike personnel and first responders from several agencies responded to a multi-vehicle crash on the Ohio Turnpike on Friday afternoon that left four dead and many injured.

The crash happened eastbound between State Route 53 and State Route 4 in Sandusky County and eventually stretched into Erie County.

Forty-six vehicles were involved in the crash, according to OSHP Sgt. Ryan Purpura. At least three of the four victims were in different vehicles.

Francisco Gutierrez-Martinez, 30, of Cleveland; Bernard M. Bloniarz, 59, of Napoleon; Emma L. Smith, 19, of Webberville, Mich.; and Julie E. Roth, 37, of Toledo, were killed in the crash, OSHP said.

The exact number of injuries has not yet been determined. The crash is still under investigation, Purpura said.

Eastbound lanes of traffic were opened just after 5 p.m. on Saturday. Westbound lanes were also open.

Credit: Haraz Ghanbari
Photo submitted by Haraz Ghanbari, board member of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

Weather conditions including high winds, blowing snow, and frigid temperatures factored into Friday's crash, OSHP confirmed. Everyone involved in the crash was bussed to a facility to stay warm.

The rescue effort continued through white-out conditions.

The Sandusky County Sheriff confirmed that a mutual aid request for extraction resources was issued to Toledo Fire & Rescue Department. Dozens of other departments and agencies from across the region also responded to the scene.

TFRD crews were assigned to recovery and rescue efforts. 

"Over the course of 4 to 5 hours, working side by side with other local first responders, they were able rescue two live victims from the mangled wreckage and also, unfortunately, had the task of recovering two deceased victims," TFRD said in an incident response update Saturday morning.

"I've never seen anything like it," a 30-year veteran of TFRD said. "One of the worst incidents I've ever responded to."

On December 23, 2022, at approximately 2:30 PM a mutual aid request was received by the Sandusky County Sheriff asking...

Posted by Toledo Fire & Rescue Department on Saturday, December 24, 2022

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