Driver inattention is being blamed for a four-vehicle, chain-reaction triple-fatal accident on I-70 West in Preble County near the Indiana border, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
"It really just boils down to driver inattention," said Sgt. Jeff Kramer of the Dayton Post.
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Drivers must learn to remain aware that vehicles can stop at any time -- for debris, construction or an incident -- and follow at a safe distance, he said.
"Tragedy happens when you're not fully paying attention. It's unfortunate that didn't happen here, that people were not paying attention," he said.
According to the preliminary investigation, Kramer said, the accident about a mile from Ohio-Indiana border happened this way:
- Construction on I-70 in Indiana was backing up traffic on the Ohio side
- The first two vehicles involved, semitrailers, stopped because of the backup
- The third vehicle, a Chevy Trail Blazer, stopped or came close to a stop. Whether the SUV came to a stop before the collision is still under investigation, Kramer said
- The fourth vehicle, a semitrailer, rear-ended the SUV. That collision pushed the SUV into the semi in front of it and off the interstate into the grass. The SUV then rolled and the occupants were thrown from the wreckage. Bystanders were trying to render aid when the occupants, a man and woman, died before medical help could arrive. They are Ohioans and believed to have been Preble County residents. It's unclear whether they were buckled in, the sergeant said.
A driver in one of the semis, extricated from the wreckage and taken to Kettering Medical Center by helicopter, died at the hospital.
The names of the people killed will be released once their next of kin have been notified.
One person, well after the collision, was taken to a hospital complaining of pain. That person’s injury was described as minor, Kramer said.
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Neither drugs, alcohol nor speed were believed to be factors, he said.
Kramer said the right lane will remain closed at least two more hours for the removal of debris and the vehicles. The state patrol is working to get the left lane open as soon as possible, he said.
The highway was shut down as officers investigated the crash.