One killed in fiery crash
09/18/2007, 10:48 am
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Donovan Estridge, 1-866-362-2167 Ext. 13865 , firstname.lastname@example.org
KINGSBURY -- An Ohio man is dead following a fiery collision between two semi trucks at the intersection of U.S. 6 and U.S. 35 Monday evening.
Donald Whitmer, 44, of Carrollton, Ohio, died immediately when his truck, traveling east on U.S. 35 and carrying steel coils, collided with another truck carrying a carnival ride, La Porte County Chief Deputy Coroner John Sullivan told The La Porte County Herald-Argus this morning.
Whitmer’s truck was registered with D.L. Belknap Trucking out of Paris, Ohio.
Jeffrey Dickinson, 28, of Granbury, Texas, was reportedly attempting to turn east onto U.S. 6 when the accident occurred. Traffic on U.S. 6 has the right of way at the intersection, which does not have a traffic light.
The accident occurred when Dickinson failed to yield to Whitmer’s truck while attempting to turn east onto U.S. 6, according to police.
Tests on Dickinson, who witnesses said had two passengers in his cab, revealed no alcohol. Dickinson was not injured and police have no record of passengers.
A blood test is pending for Whitmer.
The impact of the collision pushed the truck carrying the amusement ride into the median and ignited the fuel tanks on Whitmer’s truck, sparking a chain of explosions that incinerated the vehicle with Whitmer inside, La Porte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer told The La Porte County Herald-Argus at the scene.
“It is one of the worst accidents here in a while,” Mollenhauer said.
Mollenhauer said the initial dispatch placed the accident at the south junction of U.S. 6 and U.S. 35, near Union Center, but he almost immediately knew it must have occurred at the north junction, near Kingsbury.
“I saw the smoke from Boyd (Boulevard) and knew it had to be here,” he said. The crash occurred at about 5:15 p.m.
Although first responders arrived on the scene only minutes after the crash, it was too late to save Whitmer.
“We might never know if it was trauma or the fire that killed him,” Sullivan said. “You just hope and pray he didn’t burn to death. No one wants to see someone die like that.”
Eyewitnesses described a chain of explosions that sent plumes of smoke hundreds of feet into the air.
“I saw the trucks hit and I floored it to get out of there,” Dana Wilhelm, of Kingsford Heights, told The Herald-Argus at the scene. “Three people in the (amusement) truck ran out of there immediately. Other people began to run, then we heard the explosions. I am just freaking out right now.”