Woman saw wrong-way driver just before fatal I-70 crash

Woman traumatized by fatal wrong-way crash in Clark County

WHIO reporter Sean Cudahy on Monday spoke to a 911 caller who passed Vanderpool’s car just before it struck the semi. 

The caller, who asked not to be identified, said she’s counting her blessings after going through the traumatic experience. 

"Thank God I made it home," the Springfield Twp. woman said. 

The woman was driving east on I-70 just before 8:30 p.m. Saturday when she saw something that confused, then scared her. 

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“All of a sudden I see lights and you think lights on the other side, and I'm thinking, ‘no, these lights are over here,’ and I was like, he's going the wrong way," she said.

 The driver she she saw turned out to be Vanderpool, who Troopers say got onto I-70 east the wrong way at Route 68 and traveled about three miles before the crash. The eyewitness said she’s never seen or heard anything like it before. 

"All of a sudden he passes and I hear the loudest thing you could ever heard, and I go ‘wow,” she said. “He hit something, and then I saw just flames and smoke." 

The woman said she’s been replaying the crash in her head over-and-over, and she’s just glad she made it home safely. 

“A moment either way, I could have been further back and then when he hit the truck, that could have impacted me," she said. 

The driver of the semi that Vanderpool’s car struck suffered non-life threatening injuries.

>> Huber Heights man killed in wrong-way crash on I-70

Update @ 2:10 p.m.: 

WHIO reporter Sean Cudahy obtained an ODOT video of the crash through a public records request.

The video shows a sedan off in the distance, and it appears to change lanes. Moments later, it collides with the semi truck.

Shortly after that collision, eyewitnesses starting sending videos into our newsroom showing the semi truck engulfed in flames.

The impact killed the driver of that sedan, 30-year-old Joshua Vanderpool of Enon.

His relatives said Sunday they couldn't understand what could have caused that crash.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is working to determine the cause. 

"We're speaking with all witnesses, trying to get ahold of family and things like that, to try and figure out what happend with that,” said Lt. Brian Aller. 

“However, the video is quite clear as to what happened: the car was going the wrong way, changed lanes in front of the semi, and appeared to actually speed up as it was going toward the semi."

We are working to get recording of a 911 call from a witness who said they saw Vanderpool driving the wrong way just before the crash. 

First report: The driver who died after slamming head-on into a semi during a fiery wrong-way crash Saturday night on Interstate 70 in Clark County was identified as Joshua Vanderpool of Enon.

  • Car, semi collide on I-70 E at 47 mile marker
  • Both vehicles catch fire upon impact
  • Vanderpool, 30, driving 2004 Pontiac Sunfire, dies at scene
  • Semi driver Denis Yatsunov, 43, of New Jersey suffers minor injuries

Vanderpool, 30, of Enon, was killed at the scene of the 8:21 p.m. crash, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Springfield Post.

Joshua Vanderpool stands behind a sign for his lawn mowing business
Photo: Contributed

He was driving a blue 2004 Pontiac Sunfire west in the eastbound I-70 lanes at the 47 mile marker in Mad River Twp. when he struck a red 2009 Volvo commercial semi driven by Denis Yatsunov, 43, of Cresskil, N.J., that was headed east.

RELATED: 911 callers warn of wrong-way driver on SB I-75 prior to fiery crash

The semi driver attempted to avoid the Pontiac headed the wrong way, but the Pontiac apparently turned in the same direction and struck the semi head-on in the inside berm. both vehicles caught fire after impact, troopers said.

VIDEO: Semi catches fire on I-70 East in Clark County

“Josh was a good driver,” said his father, George Vanderpool, who mentioned Saturday night’s foggy conditions. “I think he got turned around.”

Yatsunov was wearing his seat belt and was taken to Springfield Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.

Vanderpool was a registered sex offender, according to Clark County Sheriff’s Office records. Sheriff’s records indicate Vanderpool had a 2008 conviction for pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor and in 2009 for voyeurism.

In 2007 Vanderpool, then 20, was accused of putting pornographic images onto a computer at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Enon.

“He was a good, churchgoing guy,” church council vice president Dan Van Fleet said a decade ago. “Extremely shocked. We were all really … very shocked.”

Johua Vanderpool is shown playing the piano
Photo: Contributed

Court records indicated Vanderpool took inappropriate photos of juveniles without their knowledge and mixed them with pornographic images from the internet to created a slide show.

George Vanderpool said his son was turning his life around the past few years and had a lawnmower and snow removal business. He also said his son had bought a bunch of bread from a grocery store to take to take with him to Enon’s food pantry, where he volunteered on Mondays.

Contributed by Jen Bailey-Tipple on Facebook.

Troopers first received reports of a sedan headed west in the eastbound lanes around 8:21 p.m., according to the patrol. At 8:23 p.m., calls came in about a semi on fire, and troopers at 8:30 p.m. confirmed those reports were linked.

The crash remains under investigation.

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