A crash Tuesday on Interstate 71 in Clinton County claimed the life of one of the leading members of Washington Twp., a rural community in Warren County.
Karen Stutrud, 63, of Oregonia, was the long-time fiscal officer for the rural township in eastern Warren County and secretary for the Olive Branch United Methodist Church, a spiritual center in the community.
Stutrud was one of two people killed in a crash about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 71 when a southbound semi-trailer driven by Sam Hussein, 43, of Columbus, lost control and crossed the median into northbound lanes and struck Stutrud’s sedan and another semi head-on, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.
She and the other semi-driver, Timothy Brown Sr., 55, of Lewisburg, Tenn., were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the patrol press release.
“Karen was just one of the most giving, community minded people,” Scott Hagemeyer, president of the township board of trustees, said. “We lost one of the most important, outgoing community minded people we have known.”
“Karen was the backbone of Washington Twp.,” Hagemeyer added.
In addition to the township’s finances, Hagemeyer said Stutrud managed the township web site.
“Karen did a really phenomenal job of keeping the public up to date about what was going on in Washington Twp.,” Hagemeyer added.
Stutrud was also an active supporter of Your Father’s Kitchen, a food service for a homeless shelter in Wilmington.
“She knew most of them by their first name,” Hagemeyer said.
Stutrud was running for re-election in November. Her current term runs through March 31.
The crash, in Clinton County, about 10 miles north of the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, shut down the interstate in both directions for hours.
Reported at 2:36 p.m., the crash was apparently triggered by the blowout of the left front tire of Hussein’s semi, according to the patrol’s Wilmington post.
Hussein and his passenger, Mohamud Mohamed, 76, of Columbus, suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken by ambulance to Clinton Memorial Hospital.
Northbound I-71 reopened just after 11 p.m., ODOT reported. The southbound lanes reopened just after 6:30 p.m., according to ODOT.
No impairment is suspected and all drivers were wearing seat belts, according to investigators.
No charges have been filed, or are expected, unless negligence is found, according to Lt. Stan Jordan, post commander.
The results of the investigation will be presented to Clinton County prosecutors, Jordan said.
“I can’t see any avenue for charges at this point. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” he said.
On Sept. 9, another elected Warren County official, Maineville Mayor Bill Shearer, 82, was killed when he was struck on his lawn mower on the road in front of his home. He was not seeking re-election.
Stutrud was running unopposed in the November election. The deadline for filing for the election has passed.
Warren County Board of Elections Director Brian Sleeth said the trustees would likely appoint a replacement.
Hagemeyer said the trustees were meeting Wednesday night with county prosecutors about the next steps in replacing Stutrud.
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